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University of Wisconsin–Madison
School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Will Ferrell brings his Ron Burgundy character to a Bismarck ND TV news broadcast. Is this news, promotion, advertising, comedy, or some combination of each?

Viewers of last Saturday evening’s broadcast of KX-News in Bismarck ND were likely surprised to see Ron Burgundy serving as co-anchor.  Will Ferrell’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy character has been popping up in unexpected places recently as the actor promotes the upcoming sequel, Anchorman: The Legend Continues.

Ferrell’s character was integrated into the actual KXNews broadcast script, and the actor clearly ad libbed during transitional banter.  While it may not have been on par with a carefully polished Hollywood script, the appearance went viral with the full broadcast logging more than 180,000 views on YouTube within 48 hours.  Several other shorter videos, as well as the station’s own post, further grew the exposure.

Funny?  Sure.  Appropriate?  Not so sure.  The Burgundy character is clearly a satirical send-up, yet probably does little to build credibility of TV anchors.  As a former advertising guy who counted Universal Pictures as a client, I loved this.  But as a journalism scholar, I found it a bit troubling.  Having Ron Burgundy co-anchor an entire broadcast essentially made that it a 30 minute promotional message for the upcoming film.

In the comment thread below a Facebook post linking to a Talking Point Memo post about Ferrell’s KXMB appearance, two adjacent comments offer opposing opinions about the stunt…

TPM FB

Love it or hate it, Ron Burgundy’s turn as co-anchor on KXNews does call into question station KXMB’s credibility.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fpj4uM1ruvs

 

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