Q: With "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" set to arrive later this month, Ron Burgundy is everywhere — local newscasts, Twitter, radio shows, book signings, and no less than 70 car commercials. Is this the future of movie marketing?
A: Don't forget the Ben & Jerry's ice cream, the new-slash-fake autobiography excerpt in the New Yorker, the commentaries on Australian politics, the presentation at the MTV's European Music Awards, an appearance right here on Yahoo, even a contest to join the Anchorman news team. It's all in character, folks.
Ferrell's social media-friendly PR blitz may not apply to every current or future flick — I can't exactly see it working for, you know, "12 Years a Slave" — but marketers are hailing the selling of the "Anchorman" sequel as brilliant nonetheless.
"This intense social media marketing along with tie-ins with actual media will set the standard for future film marketing," predicts David Johnson of the publicity firm Strategic Vision.
So will the campaign's marathon-like endurance. The blitz for "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" actually started in March of last year with an in-character appearance on Conan O'Brien. Jazz flute was played. The Anchorman sequel was announced. And since then, distributor Paramount has never missed a chance to impress groups of influencers.
Any groups of influencers.
"The most notable element of the Ron Burgundy marketing campaign was the built-in viral element," says James Pearson of BrightLine, an advertising technology firm that consults with entertainment companies.
In October, he notes, the campaign was previewed at the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing annual meeting in Phoenix — "the meeting of the most influential people in advertising."
So before the campaign even aired, "[Paramount] was building buzz ... with the most qualified and perfect group of brand influencers in advertising today."
Marketers are also raving about the echo chamber effect that comes with having a fake news anchor character appear on real news shows. The result? Other news shows report on those segments, and then, those reports are picked up on social media... and on and on, ad infinitum.
"Every movie creates a certain amount of social conversation," says Ben Carlson, president and co-creator of the social media research firm Fizziology, which worked with five of the seven major movie studios last year.
"But with Will Ferrell and the Ron Burgundy character, Paramount is creating wave after wave of something for people to talk about and share."
And despite the relentlessness of it all, people are loving it.
Back in October, Fizziology found that among movies releasing at the end of December, the "Anchorman" sequel was by far the biggest and social media chatter was very highly positive — as in 83 percent positive. And let's remember: The PR campaign had been going on for more than a year at that point.
That said, don't be surprised if you see Paramount shift gears between now and opening night.
"For a while the heat and noise has been around the character, reintroducing Ron Burgundy to fans and introducing him to a new base," Carlson tells me. "In the next phase you'll see a shift into heavy movie promotion, with more of an emphasis on 30 second spots to get people to go see the movie itself."
"Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," and all of its Ron Burgundy ubiquity, lands in theaters on Dec. 18.
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Leslie Gornstein is an entertainment writer and the host of the weekly Hollywood gossip podcast The Fame Fatale.
Watch 'Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues' Theatrical Trailer 2: