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This story first appeared in the Dec. 13 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
If Americans feel like they can’t turn on the TV or walk outside without seeing Ron Burgundy’s mustache, it’s nothing compared to the exhaustive international marketing campaign for Anchorman: The Legend Continues. In an unprecedented push for a comedy, Paramount — with 24/7 assistance from star Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay — has engineered an aggressive assault while tailoring the message to specific markets.
In video ads in Sweden, the fictional news anchor has riffed on a court decision legalizing masturbation. Burgundy made headlines in Australia with a video describing new Prime Minister Tony Abbott‘s skimpy bathing suit as a “banana hammock.” In addition, he has weighed in on the popular Irish crime-drama series Love/Hate. (Ferrell and McKay also shot videos for the U.S. via their Funny or Die studio.)
The reason? Paramount is determined to broaden the $50 million sequel into a global hit. In 2004, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy earned a meager $5.3 million internationally, compared with $85.3 million in North America. The film set at a 1970s San Diego TV station didn’t even open in many territories, and most of its foreign gross came from the U.K. ($3 million) and Australia ($1.7 million).
“We had to start fresh almost everywhere,” says Paramount chief marketing officer Josh Greenstein. “Our job was to make [Burgundy] feel relevant in each of those countries.”
Paramount had the same goal with the May release Star Trek Into Darkness, which grossed $238.6 million overseas, nearly double Star Trek‘s foreign booty in 2009 (domestically, the sequel took in $228.8 million).
One of the studio’s biggest pushes for Anchorman 2 came during November’s MTV Europe Music Awards. (MTV is a sister Viacom company.) Ferrell appeared onstage three times and hosted a 30-minute special that reached 25 million viewers in 45 markets.
Says Greenstein, “It’s by far the most aggressive campaign we’ve done overseas for a comedy in terms of customization.”
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