Ron Burgundy’s Dodge Durango SUV promotion, as well as character appearances on ESPN and a North Dakota news station have proven wildly successful. Combining marketing messages for sponsored product lines as well as the upcoming film release of Anchorman 2 has been a unique and well-received effort. As reported in Advertising Age “Dodge brand boss Tim Kuniskis said: ‘We’ve seen almost an 80 percent increase in Web traffic alone since the (Ron Burgundy Dodge) campaign launched.'”
Anchorman Ron Burgundy – even though fictional – provides several marketing insights and lessons for 2014. For those planning promotional outreach, advertising or marketing campaigns in the coming year, these 10 marketing insights inspired by the recent success of the fictional anchorperson, might just provide that cutting edge message creation your organization needs.
Closing 2013 with such a fresh and successful communication strategy is a big win for Dodge, GM and the other product sponsors that took a chance using the Ron Burgundy character. For others, the lessons we can carry forward into 2014 include the following 10 Marketing Strategy Tips:
10. Release Your Inner Comedian
Okay… so not everyone is naturally funny. Still, attempts to lighten the emotional loads of others by providing some comic relief deserves respect. The ability to poke fun – particularly at one’s self – can be endearing and in subtle ways, build respect for the messenger. Reaching out via social channels using modest humor can be highly effective in building readership and inspiring return visitors.
9. Introduce Humor – People Need It!
There is a lot of information in the news – most of it is bleak. Humor can help put some of this in perspective or at least point out some of life’s little absurdities. One has to be a bit careful using humor though, particularly around areas where people are highly sensitive; like politics, or religion, or.. pretty much everything … just do your best not to offend. And if you do, own up to it quickly and move on.
8. Seek Laughter – It is Disarming
Seriously.. people that can make you laugh are easier to relate to. And those that are easily related to, find it easier to build relationships with others. As relationship building is key to any marketing or communication effort, getting a laugh out of the audience can open the door to more serious interaction.
7. Funny = Viral = Profitable
How do you reach more people with your message? Just make the message worth sharing! A meaningful message that has some entertainment value is much more likely to be re-shared over other’s networks. Developing content that fits other peoples social networks is the key to making content viral. And of course good viral content has the potential to attract large numbers of viewers and prospective customers.
6. Event Association Works!
Associating the Anchorman 2 release with products and events (including actual newscasts) builds exposure and visibility for all participants. The news station in North Dakota that had the courage to put Ron Burgundy on in full character on a newscast succeeded in building a great deal of exposure. It also helped humanize its on-air personalities and make them easier to relate to.
5. Promote Brand Association
Everyone can recognize a movie star – even a fictional one. Celebrity spokespersons are frequently used to promote specific brands by using their well known traits and characteristics. As Sam Elliot’s famous deep voice adds credibility to claims of truck ‘toughness,’ brand associations are particularly useful for generating visibility for lesser known product lines. Associating humor with a brand is also highly effective. Just ask the Dodge SUV manager that agreed to do the Ron Burgundy ad.
4. Expand the Brand
Supporting a good message using multi channel distribution is a great way to leverage exposure and increase visibility. More people may have watched Ron Burgundy deliver the news via YouTube recording than probably saw the event live. Leveraging social media to inspire conversation and build exposure about the brand expands its overall visibility and reach.
3. Attention is the Objective
Don’t let dignity get in the way of a great message. Too often, image conscious marketers nix really great ideas because they don’t want to devalue their brand. Or, the risk of something going wrong convinces managers that the risk is not worth taking.
Even marketing and social media disasters can be made into assets though. Remember the Burger King Twitter campaign in February, 2013? The company released its Twitter campaign only to have it hijacked and replaced with promotions for rival McDonalds, accompanied by claims of drug abuse by employees. By the time BK regained control of the situation, their Twitter account had actually gained tens of thousands of followers. Although the marketing and social media staff got a black eye on this one, Burger King may get the last laugh with its increased network reach.
2. Exposure Doesn’t Have to be Great to Work
How is talking to a horse about SUV horsepower effective? Ron Burgundy illustrated the efficiency and high-horsepower of the Dodge SUV line by trying to discuss it with an actual horse. The horse was simply an illustration and point of comparison. A real celebrity spokesperson probably couldn’t have made the point having a conversation with a horse, but the Burgundy character pulled it off. Many marketers get weighed down by quality requirements that strangles truly creative message creation. Great messaging doesn’t have to be overly dignified or highly technical to work.
1. Outside-the-Box Thinking Wins in the Long Term
The ‘stick with things that work’ strategy can lead your messaging down a stale rabbit hole. Finding new message strategies that work is an ongoing, creative effort that has to be nurtured and undertaken with a fair degree of courage. Promotional events also need a fairly wide creative berth to compete for the attention of today’s overworked and over-communicated population.
Outside the box thinking for creative message development can pay great dividends. Some organizations separate the messaging from the risk analysis in order to generate the freshest possible ideas. When a new creative scheme is handed off to the risk assessment team, risk managers create contingency plans to handle any potential problems rather than try to throw a wrench back into the original idea. Occasionally, sounder minds have to over-rule truly wild campaign or message ideas, but generating original, fresh and unique messaging is a process that should be nurtured, then vetted. Execution of these two tasks together dulls the creative processes , so they may be best performed separately.
Making the marketing message more enjoyable to consume makes the entire effort more successful. Creating great content that others want to share and talk about is a difficult undertaking, but it can be richly rewarding. One may have to try multiple schemes and pilots to hit on something that works well, but in the end, creating a stronger company means taking reasonable risks at developing and deploying creative message strategies.
In the words of the Ron Burgundy himself…. “Don’t act like you’re not impressed.”
Matthew Stone is an accomplished SEO expert, digital marketer and is experienced in Social Media Management. Since 2008, Matthew has helped clients attract build online relationships, expand sales and increase revenues. He also works in Denver Public Relations with GroundFloor Media.
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