Dodge was taking a bit of a risk in hiring Ron Burgundy as pitchman—the ads, after all, promote Anchorman 2 at least as much as they sell any car. But the automaker must be happy with the number of times the brand and model names get uttered in Will Ferrell's latest spot for the automaker, which broke Sunday. He has a lot more to say, anyway, than he did the previous weekend in the "Get the Heck" spot, also posted below. Agency: Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore. UPDATE: Another three new spots hit YouTube this afternoon. See them all below.
IDEA: Fictional '70s anchorman Ron Burgundy doing parody ads, which double as real ads, for a 2014 sport utility vehicle? Olivier François, who has broken the mold before as CMO of Chrysler and Fiat, was ecstatic to try it—even though he'd never heard of Anchorman and knew only vaguely of Will Ferrell. The idea was actually born in a Fiat meeting, where then North American brand chief Tim Kuniskis proposed Burgundy as pitchman for the Fiat 500L—since the car, like the man, is "kind of a big deal." The idea died, but François finally saw the movie. And when he learned Anchorman 2 was in the works, he suggested Burgundy do ads for Dodge (where Kuniskis is now CEO) that would also promote the sequel. "My pitch to Paramount was: Let's remind everyone how funny and great Ron Burgundy is," said François. Ferrell was game, and it was perfect timing for the 2014 Dodge Durango launch. So, Dodge agency Wieden + Kennedy got down to work with Gifted Youth, the production arm of Ferrell's Funny or Die, producing a campaign that, in humor and scope, would exceed almost everyone's expectations. COPYWRITING/TALENT: W+K wrote the first scripts, focusing on how a local celebrity in the '70s would pitch a car made 40 years in the future. "Once Will was on board, he really engaged and sent us back notes and new spots," said W+K creative director Aaron Allen. "We would send changes back to him. It was very collaborative, and oddly unstressful." The first four spots broke last week, in eight versions with different jokes and punch lines. (A batch of 25 scripts produced 70 videos that will roll out over several months.) In the first ads, Burgundy raves about the Durango's glove box, can't pronounce "MPG," ridicules a horse for its single horsepower, and chases ballroom dancers away from the car. Gifted Youth/Caviar director Jake Szymanski found W+K's scripts very funny and just kept adding to them. "We'll start with a script, but we might add five or 10 versions of a punch line," he said. "And then we'll improvise on set, yelling out other lines for Will to try." The spots close with on-screen pitches, in black lettering backed by gold lights and trumpet music (the opening bars of the Friends of Distinction's version of "Grazing in The Grass"), for the vehicle and the movie, which hits theaters at Christmas. FILMING/ART DIRECTION: Szymanski shot for three days—two with Ferrell, one just with the car—on two large stages at MBS Stages in Los Angeles. The first was a large circular stage with a curtain in the back and the car on display. "We talked about doing it on a big white cyc [cyclorama]," Szymanski said. "But for this, I wanted it elegant and sleek, to juxtapose the buffoonery of Ron Burgundy." Allen said the set had both a "modernity and a retro feel, which allowed the Durango and the character to both feel at home in the same space." (Other ads, yet to break, were shot on a second stage. "I'll just say you'll probably see him behind the wheel at some point," Szymanski hinted.) The ads could be criticized for selling Burgundy more than the Durango, but in fact, the vehicle gets tons of screen time. "In most of my Chrysler ads—Eminem 'Born or Fire' or RAM 'Farmer'—I've had a lot of story and not a lot of car," said François. "In this work, we have a lot of car." In any case, Francois said the campaign is about getting exposure for the Durango, not necessarily direct sales. "I don't think an ad can ever sell anything," he said. "It will never tell you everything about a car. The purpose is to grab you and drive you to another medium, which will fill you in." MEDIA: Some ads will air on TV; all will be on YouTube. Szymanski, who also shot Ferrell's quirky Old Milwaukee ads, said he loves the meta nature of the work. "You're deconstructing a car ad or a beer ad while still being a car ad or a beer ad," he said. "It's not anti-product, ever. It's about deconstructing the form—and a lot of the forms have been overdone in typical commercials." THE SPOTS:
Pepsi stormed YouTube last week with one of the year's most popular videos: a clip featuring Jeff Gordon, in disguise, taking a car salesman on the most frightening test drive of his life. The video is quickly closing in on 30 million views, and got almost 10 million in a single day, last Friday, according to data from Unruly Media. The spot has also taken some heat, though, for perhaps not being quite as real as it seems. (Not that viewers seem to mind. The clip has almost 100,000 likes, some 25 times the number of dislikes.) Adweek spoke with the video's director, Gifted Youth's Peter Atencio, perhaps best known for directing and producing every episode of Comedy Central's Key & Peele. Atencio spoke about the video's enormous success, the controversy around it, and what it is about prank videos that he loves so much. We're up to almost 30 million views on this thing. Did you have any idea it would be this popular? Not to this level, no. We felt when we were working on it that it was going to do pretty well, just from the reaction people were having when we showed it to friends. They seemed to really love it, and were asking a lot of questions about it. Why do you think people love it so much? Well, I think people just like to watch other people go through a harrowing experience, when it's from the comfort of their own computer. And it all works out OK—the salesman is laughing and happy in the end, which I think makes people feel more comfortable sharing it. If he had stayed really angry at the end, I don't think people would feel as good about it.
IDEA: Blake Griffin is a spectacular athlete. Oddly enough, he's also a pretty good actor. "Some friends of mine directed a Kia spot he did," said Tim Ketchersid, a director at Gifted Youth, Funny or Die's commercialproduction company. "He had a paragraph of dialogue, walking backwards, one shot, and he did it perfectly every time.
Miller Lite's revolutionary Punch Top can, which may completely reinvent the way high schoolers shotgun beers, frankly deserved better than the few desultory Draftfcb ads it got at last month's launch. Here, thankfully, are some new product-demo ads (from Digitas in Chicago, produced by Gifted Youth, Funny or Die's new commercials division) that have a little more fun with the Punch Top concept—in particular, the plethora of household items with which you could spear the can's top. (The faster the beer goes down, the better, perhaps.) On a related note, I received Miller Lite and Miller Genuine Draft Punch Top cans in the mail from a PR agency, and after trying in vain to give them away, I sampled them—and can confirm: The experience is gloriously glugless. Two more spots after the jump. brightcove.createExperiences();