Dodge has landed the pitchman of the year to profess to the masses the fine features of its 2014 Durango -- none other than the fictional living legend, Ron Burgundy!
For some background, read up on the story here.
And for those of you interested in seeing the ad spots, check out Dodge's YouTube channel. Don't be alarmed, but that Mr. Burgundy is a passionate man when it comes to glove boxes.
Though I was really looking forward to these clips, I have to say overall I was fairly disappointed in them. Sure there were a couple of chuckles, but for the most part it came across a little stale.
Given the character's connection to the 1970's, I think in my mind I was hoping for more of a throwback to Ricardo Mantalban's Chrysler Cordoba commercials... which would have had tremendous potential and that kind of lost opportunity is unforgivable.
Furthermore, I think Farrell is being misused. Not just in these ads, but in general.
The magic of Will Farrell's comedy was how effectively he could throw a scene out of it's natural balance with a fast absurd ad-lib. His trademark forced deadpan delivery only compounded the humor. He always looked like a salesman that knows you know his pitch is total BS, but dammit, he's gonna deliver the hell out of it anyway.
Because he always looked like he was aware the audience's lack of buy-in, it gave his performances a certain vulnerability and (in the mid-late 1990's when gimmicky sitcom writing and acting was arguably at its worst) the honesty was refreshing.
However, I felt this sort of approach was most effective when it was delivered in smaller doses and balanced against some other comic styles.
For example, Farrell is very effective in Old School because his style of comedy (misguided extreme self-assurance) played well against Vince Vaughn (rude motor-mouthing... like a human Foghorn Leghorn) and Luke Wilson (the down on himself everyman). The balance was magic and Farrell became a star.
But the more recent movies don't have the same effect because the whole movie is dedicated to the Farrell brand of comedy without anything for it to play against. Chocolate cake can be the best part of a meal, but if it's all you eat you'll end up malnourished and dead.
Now don't get me wrong, I love Will Farrell's work and I have spent many fun filled hours with friends watching the uber quotable Anchorman movie (yes I've seen the lost movie too). In fact Farrell's Harry Caray impersonation is one of my all time favorite SNL moments (Would you eat the moon if it was made of ribs?).
So I'm certainly not one of those people that had it out for Farrell from the beginning. Maybe it's the fact that I'm coming up to about 17 or 18 years of watching the same schtick or my comedic tastes have changed, but it just isn't hitting it out of the park for me like it used to.
Of course the clips have already had millions of views, so obviously even if the caliber (no Dodge pun intended) is a little low, people are still interested in seeing them. So the appeal is still there and mission accomplished... but the marketing people are going to need to come up with something else for the next campaign, because I really don't think this approach has legs for the long haul.