If your Thanksgiving holiday travel took you to North Dakota – specifically the Bismarck or Minot area – then you likely found a surprising treat when you tuned into the local CBS affiliate’s Saturday evening newscast. There was legendary newsman Ron Burgundy sitting at the anchor desk, ready to read all the local news – including exciting reports on Black Friday shopping and downtown holiday decorations – with the usual cast of anchors, sports reporters and meteorologists. If your travel plans didn’t include the northern plains, our colleagues at PBS NewsHour have the full 30-minute newscast streaming for you to watch on their Rundown Blog.
Sure, Will Ferrell’s unannounced appearance at the KXNews desk is an obvious marketing maneuver for his new film, Anchorman 2, which will be released at Christmas. But, with no explanation and a full half-hour of Ferrell playing Burgundy straight in his role as a seasoned anchor, this might just be my favorite viral ploy yet.
It’s also not the first time that Ferrell has taken to local media to drum up excitement. Just a couple years ago he agreed to make a series of TV advertisements for Old Milwaukee, with one caveat – the ads could only run in the local TV markets where he filmed them. The result was a collection of hilariously eclectic ads that started appearing on YouTube from viewers who were caught off guard by the SNL actor in their city – like this spot with Ferrell bicycling and singing the beer’s jingle in the streets of Milwaukee.
So, with Ferrell, err Ron Burgundy, on the loose and making unexpected visits to American newsrooms, perhaps Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff better watch their spot on the NewsHour anchor desk with this hot talent on the market. Maybe WPT should make a pitch to ask Ferrell to join Frederica Freyberg for Friday night’s Here and Now. We’ll head up to the studio right now and make room for him on the set!