You may not be able to grow Ron Burgundy’s thick, lustrous mustache, but you can drive his car of choice, eat his favorite ice cream and even dress like him. At least when it comes to underpants.
This week, Jockey International Inc. released a line of retro underwear inspired by Paramount Pictures’ forthcoming comedy “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”
It is one of several marketing partnerships the movie studio has finalized, including high-profile deals with Dodge and Ben & Jerry’s — both of which have produced buzz-generating campaigns.
The Jockey arrangement marks the first time since 1950 that the company has sold undergarments inspired by a movie. Back then, Jockey sold underwear as part of a promotion for the Bob Hope film “Fancy Pants.”
That campaign was relatively simple — and chaste — compared with Jockey’s cheeky “Anchorman 2" project. The new underwear promises on the packaging to provide “ample support for your little anchorman.”
The “Anchorman 2" deal didn’t start as a marketing partnership, but with the filmmakers looking for the perfect pair of skivvies.
When the “Anchorman 2" script called for a character to wear a pair of old-school underpants, the project’s costume department did the logical thing — it rang up Jockey and asked for some.
Jockey was a smart choice. The Kenosha, Wis., company is known for a series of advertisements it ran in the 1970s and 1980s that featured star Major League Baseball pitcher Jim Palmer modeling underwear.
That was the look the “Anchorman 2" filmmakers were hoping to replicate for their picture, which is set in 1980 and sees the original “Anchorman” film’s crew of newsmen trying to fit in at a new 24-hour news channel.
But there was one problem — Jockey no longer makes that sort of underwear, said Dustin Cohn, the company’s marketing chief.
Still, Jockey offered to produce a couple of pairs for the production. Cohn said that Jockey consulted its director of consumer relations and resident historian, John Cronce, who used the company’s archive — which houses vintage underwear — for guidance on the project.
“He helped source the design as well as some sample product of the day,” Cohn said. “Our design and product development folks dusted off the old design from the 1980s and were able to reproduce them by hand.”
The fruits of Jockey’s work will be seen on screen when the Will Ferrell-starring picture is released Dec. 20. Though Jockey’s efforts were not part of a product placement deal — the company did not pay Paramount to be included in the movie, the brand is not mentioned, and its logo is not seen — the undergarments company is poised to capitalize on the project.
Cohn said that after the underwear was used in the movie shoot, there was “mutual interest between Jockey and Paramount to see how we could work together to do something really fun for fans of the film.” A licensing deal for a limited-edition run of “Anchorman 2" retro underwear was born out of discussions between the two companies.
“It just all started with the script and went from there,” said LeeAnne Stables, executive vice president of worldwide marketing partnerships for Paramount. “The cleverness of the idea of [Jockey] making them [for] customers was completely separate.”
Paramount and Jockey declined to discuss the terms of their licensing agreement, citing the confidential nature of their contract.
Jockey is selling the $18 pairs of underwear on its website and in its stores. The briefs come in “Sex Panther Red” and “Beard of Zeus Blue” — names that reference jokes from the original 2004 film, “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” (A trailer for the new movie shows Paul Rudd’s Brian Fantana character clad only in underwear that was the basis for the “Sex Panther Red” retail version.)
Jockey’s underwear does not include an “Anchorman 2" logo on it, but the packaging does. It comes in a box that features an image of Ferrell in full Ron Burgundy-mode: besuited, and running a hand through his mane. The packaging reads, “Don’t act like you’re not impressed” — a well-known line from the original “Anchorman” movie.
The first film, in which Ferrell’s Scotch-swilling Burgundy palled around mid-1970s San Diego with his newscaster friends and fell for colleague Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), grossed $91 million worldwide. The picture’s subsequent popularity on home entertainment platforms cemented its status as a cultural fixture.
Like the original, the new movie, budgeted at $50 million, was written and directed by Adam McKay. Ferrell also serves as a producer, alongside McKay and Judd Apatow. And in addition to Rudd, other cast members from the first movie, including Steve Carell and Vince Vaughn, returned for the sequel.
Paramount’s other “Anchorman 2" marketing partnerships include deals with Dodge to promote its new Durango SUV; Ben & Jerry’s, and its new Ron Burgundy-inspired ice cream flavor “Scotchy Scotch Scotch"; Miller Brewing Co.; and retailer Hot Topic.
Licensed products in the entertainment/characters segment — which includes movies and television shows — accounted for $49.3 billion in retail sales in the U.S. and Canada last year, according to the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Assn. Also, the entertainment/characters segment accounted for 45% of all licensed retail sales in the U.S. and Canada.
But the “Anchorman” Jockey deal may not be chiefly about selling underpants.
Ira Mayer, publisher of the trade publication “Licensing Letter,” said that companies aren’t likely to enter into this sort of arrangement to simply sell more of their product.
“You do these deals for a variety of reasons. Boosting sales may be one of them. Image is probably a more likely one, and the promotion and the publicity. That is all part of it, and it’s a legitimate part,” he said.
Marty Brochstein, senior vice president of industry relations and information for the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Assn., doesn’t believe the promotion will “move the needle” on Jockey’s underwear sales, but like Mayer, he believes it will make the brand “part of the cultural conversation,” while possibly helping Paramount sell movie tickets.
“Every time that Jockey has the special packaging on a shelf, or on the store’s website, it reminds people that ‘Anchorman 2' is opening Dec. 20,” Brochstein said. “That’s a billboard for the movie.”
Mayer praised the creativity of the various “Anchorman 2" licensing deals, singling out the Jockey arrangement because it is in keeping with the tone and spirit of the “Anchorman” franchise.
“It is a smart, opportunistic move on Jockey’s part,” Mayer said. “For Jockey, it doesn’t even matter if the movie bombs.”