Storytelling and Advertising, Part 2

Will Ferrell Dodge Durango

Photograph by Chrysler

I mentioned before how I think the Anchorman spots for Dodge are a home run and I want to expand a bit on my thoughts.

My Initial Thoughts

After viewing the ads a few weeks back, here is what passed through my mind.

  • The highly anticipated Anchorman sequel is coming out at the end of the year so there are some strong opportunities for co-branding—leveraging the popularity of Anchorman in order to advertise an unrelated product or brand (in this case the Dodge Durango)
  • By creating humour-based 30-second spots and putting the entire campaign on YouTube the chances of them going viral are excellent
  • By using the Ron Burgundy character to push Durangos, Dodge has the opportunity to capture the 20(&30)something market—if they’re open to purchasing new vehicles of course
  • Is this group the right target market?
  • These ads will definitely help the movie, but will they help the vehicle?

So my “home run” comment was more about the success of the viral campaign as I am on the fence of whether the bigger gamble—the selling of Durangos—will pay off.

So what does this campaign have to do with storytelling?

Without actually knowing what Dodge hopes to gain from this campaign here are my guesses. By the way, these ads are telling a story and the story is not random. (Although the ads may be.)

The Story

  • Who is the target? My hunch is those who love Ron Burgundy and who are also on social media will respond best to these ads. Those people are likely men in their late 20s, early 30s in urban areas
  • What do they want people to do? I think the goal here is to inspire people to share the ads on their social media channels in an entertainment capacity (equaling free advertising), with the underlying goal of motivating those looking for a new SUV to purchase a 2014 Dodge Durango
  • What do they want people to feel? This is a little tougher for me to guess but if I had a look at their brand book I expect to find words like “youthful,” “hip,” and “doesn’t take self too seriously.” In an effort to capture a younger buyer, the brand must frame themselves in people’s minds as representative of the generation
  • How will they accomplish this? Through co-branding, viral videos mixed with television advertising, and humour

So how is this storytelling?

While this isn’t a “once upon a time there was a company that wanted to make more money” kind of story (I know, how boring) there is a story here. It’s a company using an advertising campaign in order to tell us what kind of brand they are. They’re telling us a story of how they want to be thought about, and what kind of company they want to be.

See how interesting storytelling and advertising can be? The risk for Dodge is choosing the right target for their product/brand and the right partners to help them tell their story (through both media and co-branding).

Is it working?

You may have gathered I don’t think Anchorman will suffer from this campaign, but I’m unsure if the gamble will result in increased sales for Dodge. And it would seem I’m not the only one wondering. There’s a great article in BloombergBusinessweek on how this campaign is doing. The short story: sales up 11 per cent overall and up 59 per cent for Durango. Can this all be attributed to Ron Burgundy? Of course it’s impossible to say for sure but it’s not…not working.

Another interesting snippet from the article is the Durango is Dodge’s smallest piece of the pie as far as sales go. So this is a really interesting choice for me. It makes me wonder if this target is for the Durango only, and not the brand overall. And if that’s the case, will people outside of the target who are loyal to the brand feel turned off by this campaign? I guess we’ll have ot wait and see.

  • Very interesting! I think the value they are building in long-term branding or planting the seeds of brand loyalty is pretty huge. Before this campaign I wouldn’t be able to tell you dodge from…any other truck company. Besides Ford, who I know is TOUGH. Now I definitely do relate them to being hip and humorous. To be honest, I still want to buy a volkswagon rabbit based on this adorable ad (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMpoBL5LZGM) that I saw probably 6 years ago… šŸ˜€ (They’re acting like bunnies!!)

    I can definitely imagine that a few years from now, if I start a family (and have the money for a new vehicle) this ad will pop into my head and would probably put a dodge durango on the table as an option. Vehicles are such large purchases, I have a feeling that most automotive brands focus on that long-term brand personality that will bring young people in their doors once they are older. Not to mention brand loyalty, and the popularity associated with what kind of car you drive!

    Its also an interesting observation that I almost NEVER remember which car company puts out which ad, but Ron Burgandy’s voice saying “dodge durango” is stuck there for good šŸ˜€