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Who Sold it Best?

Michael Bolton’s and Will Ferrell’s comedic chops helped Honda and Dodge dealers set new records at the end of 2013.

February 2014, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Stephanie Forshee - Also by this author

A series of Dodge Durango commercials featuring actor Will Ferrell as Ron “Anchorman” Burgundy resulted in a significant boost in sales. 
A series of Dodge Durango commercials featuring actor Will Ferrell as Ron “Anchorman” Burgundy resulted in a significant boost in sales. 
A familiar face is sometimes all it takes to charm buyers into buying a product. But when it came to 2013 sales, who helped roll more vehicles: singer Michael Bolton or comedian Will Ferrell?

Bolton was the face of the tongue-in-cheek “Happy Honda Days” campaign, which launched in November. The Grammy-winning recording artist belted out some wintery hits over the holidays and caught the social media world by storm with the #XOXOBolton campaign.

Across all social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc. — Bolton’s Honda ballads generated 81.6 million impressions, according to a Honda spokesperson. On Twitter alone, the #XOXOBolton hashtag had nearly 2,000 mentions by more than 1,100 users.

“It was very successful and well-received,” the Honda representative said, noting that the campaign generated 13.5 million impressions for the automaker and its dealers.

Honda’s #XOXOBolton campaign featuring Grammy-winning singer Michael Bolton generated 81.6 million impressions across all social media platforms.
Honda’s #XOXOBolton campaign featuring Grammy-winning singer Michael Bolton generated 81.6 million impressions across all social media platforms.
And then there were the Dodge Durango ads featuring Ferrell’s “Anchorman” character, Ron Burgundy, who was pushing cars as well as “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” The advertisements prompted a wild array of shenanigans — Ferrell yelling at ballroom dancers, flinging eggs at a Durango or throwing packets of gum from the SUV’s glove box, and “winning” a staring contest with a horse.

Ferrell’s first commercial aired in October. Two months into the campaign, Chrysler reported that total views for all of Dodge’s Ron Burgundy spots topped 21 million. And according to a company spokesperson, search volume for “2014 Durango” spiked by 89% and 56% for “Dodge Durango.”

The manufacturer also received data from Edmunds.com that showed shopping consideration increased 65% overall and 46% within the large SUV segment. Purchase intent, according to Edmunds.com data, rose 54% in the weeks after the campaign launched. USA Today also reported that web interest for the Dodge Durango climbed 524% after the campaign’s launch.

In December, AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson told CNBC that the dealer group was seeing tremendous results from Ron Burgundy’s antics. Then there are the Durango’s sales figures, which rose 48% in November 2013 vs. the prior year, 43% in December and 22% in January.

Honda sales, as a whole, were up by 1.9% in December compared to the same month one year ago. However, November’s numbers were down by about 0.1% while January sales dropped by about 2.1%.

How much of those sales can be attributed to the comedic commercials? An exact ROI is difficult to assess, the carmakers said, but both OEMs — and, in turn, dealers — reaped the benefits of their celebrity status.

“We had our best December sales month ever and finished the year as our second best sales year on record,” said Honda’s spokesperson. “November was also a record sales month. It’s hard to point to the commercials as the contributor, but they definitely raised awareness of our holiday sales event.”

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