By Greg Gilman
Put Will Ferrell in front of a camera and it’s guaranteed to produce hilarious results, which is exactly why Chrysler has dozens upon dozens of commercials featuring Ron Burgundy selling the 2013 Dodge Durango.
The advertising campaign — a unique collaboration between the car company, Paramount Pictures and Funny or Die’s commercial production company, Gifted Youth — launched earlier this month, but is far from over. The 30-60 second spots will be entertaining consumers on the web and television through the rest of the year as Paramount prepares to release “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” in theaters on Dec. 20.
“We went into production with 30 scripts written, but over the course of two days, we broke all previously held records and shot 25 different spots of the 30 we had written,” Chris Bruss, Funny or Die’s vice president of branding, told TheWrap. “Will was so prolific with the jokes. When we got into post production, we didn’t just have 25 spots — we had different versions of each. So if you put out everything we could possibly run, it would be up around 70 different spots.”
The commercials are centered around San Diego’s classiest newsman admiring the modern features of the new Durango, such as its available Hemi V8 engine, 360 horsepower, or more importantly, the thermoplastic olefin glovebox that “goes on for inches” and “comfortably fits two turkey sandwiches.”
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While the commercials were written by Funny or Die staff in partnership with Chrysler’s Portland-based ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, with input from Ferrell and “Anchorman” director Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions, it was Chrysler chief marketing officer Olivier Francois who hatched the idea roughly six months ago.
“Will Ferrell’s name was in the drawer where I keep my ‘dream commercials,’” Francois said earlier this month. “And when I found myself visiting my friends on the Paramount lot, and they mentioned they were in production on ‘Anchorman 2,’ I immediately felt that the beloved character Will embodied with Ron Burgundy was exactly the right fit for us. And we began to build our ideas from there.”
Ferrell had “100 percent” creative control over the spots shot last August, Paramount’s chief marketing officer Josh Greenstein told TheWrap.
With McKay busy editing the movie the integrated ad campaign was based on, Ferrell wanted Funny or Die director Jake Szymanski — who also directed Ferrell’s Old Milwaukee commercials — to helm the project.
“We’ve got a long history of automotive partnerships,” Greenstein said, referencing BMW’s “Mission: Impossible 3″ commercials and General Motor’s Michael Bay-directed “Transformers” ads. “When Chrysler approached with this idea, we loved it. To make it even better, we knew that Will Ferrell and the guys at Funny or Die had to be involved creatively to be exceptional.”
The multi-platform commercial campaign has already achieved millions of views, and will only continue to attract millions as Chrysler releases a steady string of spots, while longer form content will debut exclusively on Funny or Die in November.
Bruss described the Burgundy Durango campaign as “one of the easier and most satisfying” he has ever worked on, and gives the companies involved “massive credit” for taking the risk of putting creative control in someone else’s hands — a strategy which is becoming more popular in the advertising industry.
“Gifted Youth is starting to see that landscape change a lot,” Bruss said. “We think it’s shifting that process for the better.”