'Anchorman 2' kicks up Chrysler's October sales

The campaign is the latest in an ongoing love affair between Hollywood and the auto industry.

By The Week Nov 1, 2013 4:48PM
Ron Burgundy anchors new 2014 Dodge Durango advertising campaign in unique partnership with Dodge brand and Paramount Pictures upcoming film “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” 
(The Dodge Brand/Paramount Pictures)
© 2013 Chrysler GroupNot everyone had a tough October.

While the three-week government shutdown and debt ceiling debate in Washington battered consumer confidence across the U.S., Chrysler Group, the Fiat-controlled automaker, barely seemed to notice. On the cusp of an IPO, Chrysler reported a 11 percent rise in sales for the month of October, unloading 140,083 cars and light trucks to buyers, says Bloomberg.

Leading the charge: A 59 percent rise in sales of Chrysler Durangos, the sports utility vehicles at the center of a massive marketing partnership between Chrysler and Paramount Pictures tied to the long-awaited sequel "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues."

The campaign, which features Will Ferrell as the mustachioed news anchorman Ron Burgundy (pictured), includes 70 online and TV ads, and has attracted 7 million views as of Oct. 30, says Chrysler.

Of course, the auto industry and Hollywood -- two of the U.S.'s economic powerhouses -- have been teaming up for decades to sell movie tickets and automobiles to fans. The tie-ins have come in all shapes and sizes over the years, including in-store promotions, product placement, and premier sponsorships. But a few recent "tentpole" blockbusters -- summer franchise releases with $100 million-plus marketing budgets -- have tended to use partnerships on all levels. Here, three recent power-couplings for the two industries:

Paramount and GM: "Transformers"
Probably the most recognizable car-movie partnership of the past decade, the Michael Bay-directed "Transformers" franchise has featured an array of Chevy vehicles, not just as set pieces, but as actual characters. With names like Swerve, Bumblebee, and Skids, the cars could morph into giant, raging autobots that battle evil humans.

Though the partnership was mostly a boon for General Motors (GM), it hit a snag in 2009, when "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" coincided with the collapse of the U.S. auto industry, and GM had to slash ad dollars. The Los Angeles Times wrote at the time:

The timing couldn't be worse for the carmaker since its 2010 Camaro is just now rolling off assembly lines and being shipped to dealers. Rhadigan said although the relaunched Camaro was only a concept car and not available for sale when the first "Transformers" opened, its association with the film was highly beneficial. "It translated into awareness and boosted the overall image of Chevy," he said. "It's cool to be associated with a hot movie." [The Los Angeles Times]

Universal and Dodge: "Fast Five"
Dodge vehicles have been the centerpiece in all of the Fast & Furious films, but 2011's "Fast Five" was the first in the series to use a formal marketing relationship -- "part of a larger marketing effort to support the launch of its 2011 Dodge Charger," says Ad Age. The film included a classic 1970 Dodge Charger, a car that Steve McQueen famously chased around San Francisco in the 1968 film, Bullitt.

Playing into the carmaker's history, the campaign (Wieden & Kennedy) was called "Car Chases Make Movies Better," and played during the NCAA Final Four championship. In addition, a "Fast Five" Charger debuted at a NASCAR speedway leading up to the film.

"The 'Fast Five' premiere fit perfectly with the new Charger's introduction into the marketplace," Ralph Giles, Chrysler's CEO, told Ad Age. "It's an excellent opportunity to showcase our brand's flagship sedan in a very organic way in a great movie that has a huge fan base. Continuing to create awareness about the Dodge brand and its products in a unique and engaging manner is definitely a priority."

DreamWorks and Ford: "Need for Speed"
Based on a popular car racing video game series, "Need for Speed" (out 2014) was practically built for such a partnership. And Ford (F) seemed the obvious choice: A 2012 commercial for the game even shows a driver in a yellow Ford Focus flipping off the cops.

Though the extent of the partnership remains to be seen, the film's star, "Breaking Bad"'s Aaron Paul, will drive a custom Ford Mustang the automaker is calling the "Hero Car." It will also feature a F-450 truck, known as "The Beast."

"'Need for Speed' is rooted in Americana, and when we were casting our hero car for the film, Ford Mustang was the obvious choice,” said Stacy Snider, DreamWorks' CEO, on Ford's website. “With its 50-year history in film, the iconic Mustang is the perfect co-star for Aaron Paul. We are privileged to have such an esteemed partner like Ford working with us on this film and look forward to seeing their Mustang up on the big screen next year.”

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