Companies & Industries

Is Ron Burgundy Chrysler's Best Car Salesman?


Will Farrell as 'Anchorman' character Ron Burgundy as part of the 201 Dodge Durango commercial

Photograph by Chrysler via AP Photo

Will Farrell as 'Anchorman' character Ron Burgundy as part of the 201 Dodge Durango commercial

Smarmy newsman Ron Burgundy looks like he crawled off a car lot. As it turns out, the reprised Will Ferrell character from Anchorman might actually be able to sell a car. Chrysler (3318058z) reported an 11 percent increase in vehicle sales last month, with sales of Durangos up 59 percent. That’s the SUV at the center of most of the ads starring Ferrell as Burgundy—which made its debut at the beginning of October.

In the intervening month, the spots—70 in all—have garnered more than 7 million views on YouTube (GOOG). They’re short and funny. The tone-deaf, 1970s TV anchor barks at ballroom dancers. He extols the virtues of a glovebox that “goes on for inches.” The Durango, meanwhile, is “a beast of a machine,” according to Burgundy, “the last of the real SUVs.” The Dodge YouTube channel has the full lineup; this one’s a pretty good representative:

Chrysler also got a good deal on the ads, according to Automotive News, because it didn’t have to pay Ferrell. The spots were seen as routine promotion for Paramount’s Anchorman sequel, which will hit theaters on Dec. 20.

The car itself mattered, too. Ferrell/Burgundy hypes the new Durangos, which arrived at dealerships in September and have won solid reviews. Car and Driver praised it as a “tweener” SUV, bigger than the Ford (F) Explorer and Honda (HMC) Pilot, but more fuel-efficient and nimble than the Chevy (GM) Tahoe and Ford Exhibition.

Burgundy or no, SUVs are still a sideshow at Chrysler. The pickups continue to be by far the most powerful profit engines of late. Roughly one in five vehicles Chrysler sold last month was a Ram pickup—some 30,000 in all, which represents an 18 percent increase over October 2012.

The new Jeep Grand Cherokee was another hit, racking up 14,300 in sales, a 20 percent increase. Apparently, Jeep fans and pickup buyers don’t need a mustachioed cheerleader.

Kyle-stock-190
Stock is an associate editor for Businessweek.com. Twitter: @kylestock

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