Commentary

Brand Sponsorship Entertainment: The Good, The Bad, And The 'Suckers'

You take the good with the bad when it comes to branded entertainment and sponsorship. When the bad comes, it doesn’t hurt if there’s comedy involved.

Will Ferrell, playing his Ron Burgundy character on TBS’ “Conan,” was asked about a 59% rise in sales for the Dodge Durango SUV. “Pretty incredible, pretty amazing,” he said. “What’s so amazing about it is it’s a terrible car.” Big studio laughter followed.

Then he said, “I’m kidding, they are great.” But he next shook his head “no” for the camera. More laughter all around.

This kind of thing can and does happen in the wild, sometimes improvised world of branded entertainment. You never get 100% of what you are looking for. That’s the high-wire act of celebrity endorsement and live brand entertainment marketing.  

Sorry, procurement executives. There’s always some spillage. If you get 80% of what you intended in this marketing arena, that’s good news. In the future, one should figure more of this into marketing/media costs -- especially in an increasingly murky, fractionalized media world.  

Suggestion: Don’t be media-greedy.

Burgundy added about the Durango: “They gave me one for free. I drove it four feet and the thing cracked in half... Just horrible craftsmanship.”

According to a Dodge spokesperson, much of Ferrell’s comedy character offerings were somewhat expected.  Was Dodge a good sport? Yes. It had better be. But the bottom line works better in any event: Dodge sales are up nearly 60%!  

Other good news had arrived earlier, as the media business press wrote volumes of copy about the Dodge/Ferrell deal that also promoted the upcoming Ron Burgundy movie, ”Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” opening in theaters Dec. 2o. Hello, earned media!

To be sure, “Conan” viewers will remember the jokes and perhaps something about a new Dodge vehicle -- and perhaps that many people are buying those cars.

“You realize people bought these cars because of you,” said Conan O’Brien. Burgundy replied, “Yeah, well I got paid, they’re suckers... Hey I’m just the messenger, I’m not in there tinkering around with lug nuts.”

People always talk about “organic” brand entertainment marketing. Think more about fewer weeds with all that good stuff.

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