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Dodge CEO on the benefits of the Ron Burgundy effect

Friday, 20 Dec 2013 | 1:45 PM ET
The Ron Burgundy effect on Dodge
Friday, 20 Dec 2013 | 10:35 AM ET
Tim Kuniskis, Dodge president and CEO, discusses the success of the Ron Burgundy ad campaign and what risks where involved when deciding to tap the fictional news anchor to be the face of Dodge. "The real success has been the entertainment of the spots," Kuniskis says.

Dodge CEO Timothy Kuniskis told CNBC on Friday that he isn't worried about reports of Ron Burgundy talking badly about the company's Durango after he was hired to promote it because "the return on investment [from the campaign] is huge," Kuniskis said on "Squawk on the Street."

The first commercials featuring Will Ferrell as the lovable but clueless Burgundy were released in early October and tied to the debut of "Anchorman 2." Some of the ads have nearly 15 million views on YouTube.

In November the Huffington Post reported that Will Ferrell (while in character as Ron Burgundy) called the Durango a terrible car during an appearance on Conan O'Brien's talk show "Conan."

(Watch: Ron Burgundy ad paying off)

When the late-night talk show host informed Burgundy that Durango sales rose 59 percent since the ads started airing, Burgundy replied: "Pretty incredible, pretty amazing. And what's so amazing about it is, it's a terrible car. ... Just horrible craftsmanship," he said.

Kuniskis said he was not surprised, or upset by the remarks.

Ron Burgundy's Dodge Durango advertisement.
Source: YouTube
Ron Burgundy's Dodge Durango advertisement.

"Ron Burgundy is a fictitious character ... they had a lot of fun, they took some creative latitude, and I think it worked out great for everybody."

Kuniskis said the marketing campaign was a "bargain" for Dodge and Paramount Pictures, which released "Anchorman 2," but he did not go into details about profit from the deal.

"Was there additional media money spent? No," Kuniskis said. "But, did they [the studio] get a half of billion pre-release teaser spots for their movie? Yes. So that's what's in it for them."

(Watch: The Ron Burgundy effect drives Durango sales)

"We had to advertise the launch of the new Durango anyway," he said. "It was actually a partnership where we're promoting their movie and their promoting our vehicle."

Kuniskis said the company wanted to work with Ferrell in the past but the idea didn't pan out. The timing of "Anchorman 2" and the launch of the new Durango made it a win-win situation.

"We needed something to really grab your attention ... and the best way to do that is to use someone who is, quite honestly, an expert on everything," Kuniskis said.

—By CNBC's Karma Allen. Follow him on Twitter @iam_karma.