Ron Burgundy: How to Market a Character

If you’ve happened to so much as turn on a television set in your home, it’s likely that you’ve seen the mustachioed TV newsman Ron Burgundy pop up on the screen. And rightly so, as Ron’s been anywhere and everywhere to promote the release of the film Anchorman 2 later this month.

But the curious thing about Ron’s appearances is that they aren’t limited to trailers. In fact, the majority of his appearances probably aren’t trailers. Instead, they’re just about everything else, including car commercials, college takeovers, and even hosting Sports Center on ESPN.

Now, Will Farrell isn’t the first actor to trot out an eccentric character into reality for marketing’s sake. Animated kid’s characters have been seen in countless commercials before, and even the infamous Sacha Baron Cohen has taken his various personas out on the town over the years, much to the dismay of many major Hollywood execs and awards folk.

But what effect does this sort of quasi-marketing have on the character? Could it change any way we might perceive them?

When you consider that typical press work consists of actors, producers, and directors sitting down with everyone from Jay Leno to Hoda and Kathie Lee, it’s a bit out of the norm to log on to the internet to see that Ron Burgundy will be talking it up with some of your favorite athletes later that week. After all, you’re used to actors and movie folk going out and flaunting their films in in-depth interviews and tell-alls, not selling you things or appearing in places that would normally be something you’d mute or skip over.

But that’s kind of the genius of it; seeing this character in real life draws you in, lends them an air of authenticity, and might even come across as more endearing once you’ve seen them as a larger-than-life persona rather than an on-screen personality to be experienced for 2+ hours. He gets into your head and stays there. Which, actually, sounds like something he’d love to do.

It’s a win-win for the people he’s partnered with as well. Sure, Sports Center no doubt has its favorable ratings numbers. But if you know that Ron Burgundy will be on there, deviating from the generalized sports discussion that normally appears on the show by asking athletes about their mustaches and relationships with mascots, you might be more likely to tune in.

And the Dodge Durango probably isn’t hurting for sales at all, but listening to Ron Burgundy drone on about the glove compartment and all the different items it’d fit, capped off with the droll line “It comes standard” gives the video an instant viral quality that so many companies drool over today.  And that’s not even the only car commercial you’ll have the pleasure of watching Burgundy host.

Oddly enough, I personally didn’t care for Anchorman. And before you cry blasphemy,  it’s not because I found it to be offensively bad; it’s just not to my personal comedic taste.

But I do find this approach to film marketing interesting, if for no other reason than it breeds a fascinating social experiment. Does it draw people in to the products he’s selling? Will it have any impact on the film’s overall popularity or hurt his character at all?

Only time will truly answer this questions, but in the meantime, I’m happy to keep watching this strategy of personality marketing heading up to the film’s release. I mean, there’s seriously not enough info on glove boxes out there, and I like to be an informed consumer.