TheGrill NYC: How ‘Anchorman 2' and Dodge Made the Most Perfect Piece of Branded Content (Video)

Paramount marketing exec LeeAnne Stables talks about the sequel's many tie-ins at TheWrap's conference

There are three ways for a brand marketer to work with a studio on a specific movie, Paramount's Executive Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Partnerships LeeAnne Stables said at TheWrap‘s Grill conference in New York on Thursday.

The first is straight integration into the film. As an example, Stables said that, “if we get cars from a company, then we don't have to pay for cars, and that'll help save money on the budget.”

Then, the next level is specific product placement: “Sometimes the integration is so incredible that we may get some sort of financial underwriting on some level,” Stables said.

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“The third one,” she added, “is a marketing campaign.”

It's rare to get all three, but Paramount scored the holy grail when they worked with Dodge to make “Anchorman” icon Ron Burgundy the official spokesman for the new Durango.

Dodge was looking to highlight the many new features of the SUV, and Paramount was looking to get a head start on building the buzz for “Anchorman 2,” which came out last December. After meetings between the companies and Portland-based agency  Wieden + Kennedy, they decided on a campaign in which Will Ferrell and Adam McKay — the star and director of the upcoming film — would have their company, Funny or Die, write an abundance of spots in which Burgundy pitched the car.

Getty Images

Getty Images

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They wrote 45 in all, and spent two days shooting — and came back with 75 different spots, thanks to Ferrell's improv skills.

“We went over to Funny or Die, hung out in the kitchen with 50 staffers and the Dodge folks and Paramount team and ran 75 commercials back-to-back-to-back,” Stables said during a panel moderated by TheWrap's Sharon Waxman and Lucas Shaw and including Funny or Die's Chris Bruss and Chysler's ad exec Melissa Garlick.  “And at first you're like, is this going to get really boring after a while? But every one of them were hilarious.”

The spots earned the movie and car a ton of attention, and was a win for everybody. It took a big group effort, though, and Stables was quick to caution that just sticking a product in a movie won't do much to help marketers if they don't put in the effort afterwards.

“You're going to have products in movies about the current day, but we say this in meetings every day, we can put you in the movie and it'll be great for you and your boss and the three people who are sitting in the row, but the majority of moviegoers aren't going to remember that,” said Stables, above. “The real benefit of associating with a movie is to take your marketing — if you're trying to sell cars or electronics or whatever — you need to take the equity of a movie and use it in your own marketing campaign.

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“The onus is on the brand to do that, and a good example of that is on the last ‘Mission: Impossible,’ we partnered with BMW and they did a global campaign,” Stables continued. “BMW's car was in a chase scene and it wasn't integral to the scene but BMW blew up their campaign and it boosted sales, and it was all about them creating content and aligning with the Mission: Impossible brand.”

Not every Burgundy-Durango commercial made it to air — some were too long, others too inappropriate — but many did end up online, both at Dodge's site and at Funny or Die. It's the kind of marketing campaign that is still paying dividends, now almost nine months later.