In Anchorman, Ron Burgundy epitomises the flawed characteristics of a TV personality. The more he tries to maintain control, the more his failings are exposed - live on TV, for everyone to see.
Australians love this stuff - they loved breakfast show host Karl Stefanovic when he appeared drunk on the Today show, presenter Kerri Anne Kennerley taking a tumble with politician Peter Costello and TV host Carrie Bickmore collapsing on The Project. Aussies love a TV train wreck!
So MEC decided to insert the Ron Burgundy character into Australian cultural events and create unforgettable cringe-worthy moments.
This would be a total change from category conventions. The two disciplines of paid media and publicity would become one. Publicity would use the character, not the actor. And localised content would be the heart of the campaign, not the 10% on the side.
The Idea: Anchorman For Hire. The agency proposed to Paramount the idea of ‘hiring’ out Ron Burgundy to Australia’s biggest news outlets. This approach would combine the nous and negotiating power of a media agency with the publicist’s panache. It would go beyond standard interviews with the actor, and embed a fictitious film character into real editorial content.
Ron Burgundy would appear on Australia’s largest TV news properties. They would pitch him up against local ‘anchormen’ and presenters, bringing to bear the comedic power of Anchorman. It would be live, unscripted, and worth talking about.
To drive local relevance and topicality MEC would get Ron to comment on cultural moments from the Ashes to the elections to the Melbourne Cup in video bulletins that would be both live to air and shareable online.
In doing so it would achieve the key task: enlighten new fans and fire up existing ones by putting Anchorman and Ron Burgundy into Australian popular culture.
The paid PR approach saw Ron seamlessly fused into local programming. Ron appeared on Seven’s AFL Grand Final, setting him up as the obsessive stalker of sports journalist Samantha Lane. He wished both AFL teams well, even though “they do wear tight shorts and have a low IQ.”
It’s standard practice for Ten’s The Project to host celebrities for short interviews. However the agency negotiated an extended 12-minute segment in which Ron locked horns with Australian news legend Ray Martin. Ray and Ron’s banter about the time they “met in Madagascar in 1974 over a few Kahluas” gained significant coverage across other media.
In the SMH Ron’s video bulletins during the election fixated on Tony Abbott’s “banana hammock”. Post- election Ron extended a personal offer to the ex-PM: “I know Julia Gillard has quite a lot of time on her hands now. Well, Julia, so do I…” In the Herald Sun the video bulletins covered The Ashes as well as Ron’s outrageous alternative take on what a “Melbourne Cup” was. In addition, the agency had Ron record station IDs for Channel 7 and The Comedy Channel.
Having ignited buzz for Anchorman on live TV and video, the campaign then turned to conventional media using digital display, TVCs and outdoor. On digital channels ads for the individual characters were contextually matched to content. If you looked at your local weather, a Brick Tamland (Steve Carell) banner would be served. When you went to the footy you’d see Champ Kind (David Koechner).
Ron Burgundy became so embedded in local culture you’d think he was an Aussie. And this localised approach led to the film smashing box office targets. Anchorman 2 soared to the top of the box office on opening weekend with takings of $5.58m against a target of $3.6m, 55% over target.
Total takings were $17.98m, clearing the ambitious $15m stretch target by 20%. It also made it in the top 20 movies of the year and beat both Walter Mitty and American Hustle.
The bespoke videos and TV appearances (8 in total) delivered a massive 2.23m views - either live viewing or voluntarily consumed.
The Anchorman trailer was viewed on YouTube a total of 2.11m times. All organic. No pre-rolls. No paid media.
“MEC reinvigorated a dated franchise to the Australian audience by utilising our most precious asset, Ron Burgundy. By making the character accessible to key media partners in conjunction with time and place events delivered a successful campaign with relevance.” - Cate Smith, Paramount Pictures Australia.