Why Ron Burgundy is as Good of a Car Salesman as an Anchorman

Anchorman 2

“I’d like an ad that works and a tasty BLT.” So might say Ron Burgundy if he was a CMO of a major corporation, including an automaker. In fact, Ron Burgundy (actor Will Ferrell) is staring in several shorts for the Dodge Durango designed to boost interest in “Anchorman 2,” the sequel to the 2004 cinema hit—both starring Ferrell, and generate awareness of and interest in Durango.

As with most ads, there is TV exposure and then ancillary viral exposure, such as on youtube. At the time this analysis was written, the “It Comes Standard” vignette on the Dodge youtube channel had 3.6 million views while “Staring Contest” had 2.6 million.

Durango and Anchorman 2 can each benefit. The first Anchorman movie, while popular, debuted almost a decade ago. And Durango sales have averaged about 5,000 units per month in 2013, lower than, for example, Honda Pilot at 10,700 per month and Ford Explorer at 16,000. And while Durango sales have increased recently, to 5,600 units in November, that’s below 6,300 units in August—before the Anchorman campaign started.

Millward Brown Digital used its automotive behavioral analytics to shed light on the extent to which upper funnel demand is driving the recent Durango sales gain. In this case, we’ll use our proprietary measure of in-market demand, based on observed, lower-funnel activity across multiple automotive websites and which leverages MBD’s patented data-gathering and normalization processes. But first, we borrow some Millward Brown global brand analyses on use of celebrities.

I’m kind of a big deal.

Advertisement Emotional Response Based on Celebrity Likeability

Millward Brown analyzes ad and brand effectiveness on several measures; that includes use of celebrities in ads. Globally, including celebrities makes little difference in measures such as “involvement” and “branding” (not shown). However, “likeability” of a celebrity was key in driving an emotional response to ads. Assuming the Ron Burgundy character and Will Farrell are generally “likeable” and given there is a large emotional element to new vehicle purchases, using the Burgundy character for Durango makes sense at a high level.

Dodge is clearly confident in the Burgundy persona: it is also using him in ads for the entire Dodge family of vehicles. Recall that pickup and commercial trucks formerly branded “Dodge” are now branded “Ram,” so Dodge’s image is evolving into a more car- and crossover-centric brand.

60% of the time, it works every time.

Durango In-Market Shopper Volumes and Share of Market Interest (SMI)

With Durango sales ramping up, Millward Brown Digital assessed the digital purchase funnel, specifically in-market shopper volumes. Ideally, if consumers are equating Anchorman and Ron Burgundy with Dodge and Durango, we should see more shoppers coincident with the start of the campaign. We should also see more shoppers for Durango relative to the market.

Good news for Dodge: Durango had 28,500 in-market shoppers in November, the highest of 2013 so far, and up 33% from September. And that’s the second-highest since October 2011 (not shown). Further, gains are not simply market-driven as Durango’s demand lift has outpaced the market’s: Durango’s SMI (Share of Market Interest—its share of all in-market shoppers) was also a CY13 high.

Durango In-Market Shopper Volumes, Conversion (right), and Sales

So we see more shoppers in absolute terms and relative to the market. Let’s see how Dodge is doing turning shoppers in to buyers. For that we compare shoppers, conversion rates, and sales. Conversion represent the ability of a brand to turn its shoppers into buyers and is similar to a close rate. The decline in Durango conversion rate in recent months means that a smaller share of Durango shoppers became buyers. Lower conversion during a significant ad campaign is typical…and not always bad.

For example, Durango incentives have been lower in recent months as well. From May to August they averaged $4,440 per unit (source: Autodata, not shown). Over the past three months they averaged $3,900, with November at $3,700.

Stay Classy, Business Intelligence

Based on this preliminary analysis, there are wins for Durango. Demand is a period high and growth started coincident with the start of Anchorman co-branding. At the same time, sales are up though could go higher. Conversion is down, but so are incentives. Logical next steps include:

  • Evaluate the extent to which the demand lift is attributable to the celebrity connection, and connected to the character Ron Burgundy or the Will Farrell.
  • Indentify the cost effectiveness of the Anchorman/Durango tandem effort.
  • Compare ad dollars spent per shopper during the Anchorman campaign with earlier efforts.
  • Track the extent to which the release of the Anchorman2 movie results in a subsequent lift in Durango shoppers.
  • Compare any lift with the timing and amount of the movie’s revenue.
About Lincoln Merrihew:
Lincoln Merrihew is the Vice President of Transportation at Millward Brown Digital. At Millward Brown Digital, Lincoln is responsible for steering the Transportation Team, which encompasses the automotive and travel practices. Before Lincoln joined the Millward Brown Digital team, he worked at TNS Custom leading the Automotive team, and then continued on there to lead business development for 10 different industry verticals. Lincoln's career aspiration is to create game-changing solutions and insights. Connect with Lincoln on LinkedIn.