AUBURN HILLS, MI – Chrysler launches yet another unconventional ad campaign, this time featuring funnyman Will Ferrell playing Ron Burgundy, the main character in the 2004 movie “Anchorman:  The Legend of Ron Burgundy” and the upcoming “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”

The series of 70 short spots, shot six weeks ago, showcases the new ’14 Dodge Durango SUV and Ferrell playing the wacky, clueless Burgundy. In the past, Chrysler thought outside the box with its marketing strategy with memorable spots such as the 2011 Super Bowl ad featuring rapper Eminem.

Olivier Francois, chief marketing officer, says Chrysler needs edgy ads to compete with rivals, including bigger-budget General Motors and Ford.

“We can’t compete on pure media purchases,” he says during a media backgrounder here. “But we can compete on a lot of things, and one is making a difference and using creativity as a multiplier of media exposure.”

Several new Dodge ads debuted over the weekend on television and the Internet, including “Horsepower,” which features Burgundy chastising a horse for not being as powerful as the new Durango, and “Glove Compartment,” a spot in which Ferrell’s character boasts the SUV’s glove box can hold 70 packs of gum.

The spots will be changed every three months, with ads more focused on the product debuting in December when the campaign will conclude.

Early spots aren’t meant to highlight vehicle features, but rather “grab attention and engage with people,” Francois says, adding he has long sought Ferrell for a Chrysler ad campaign, but thought the superstar comedian would never agree to appear in commercials

However, during a visit to Paramount Studios, Francois pitched the co-branded advertising campaign idea to studio brass, who green-lighted the project.

“This approach is a total gamble,” he says, noting he’s unaware of an automaker ever featuring a fictitious movie character in an ad campaign.  “It’s unexpected and totally unique.”

Francois says the cross-promotion campaign with Paramount was cost-effective, but declines to reveal how the studio and Chrysler split the expense.

“We allocated to this campaign the monies that would’ve been allocated regardless (of the format),” he says. “The real question is, will our bang for our buck be more, less or equal? We think it will be a multiplier of what we normally would do with a traditional campaign.”

In addition to the TV spots, the automaker launched a new website, BurgundyDodge.com, as well as a number of social-media initiatives, including the ongoing release of video content on the Dodge Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.

The co-branded campaign will extend to national print elements beginning in November with concepts based on the look and feel of Dodge advertisements from the 1970s. Dodge dealers also will have access to the spots for use in local advertising.

Francois, who says he was previously unfamiliar with the “Anchorman” character, says he hopes the ads will lead consumers to associate Dodge with Burgundy.

“Once this connection is established, each time you see him there will be subliminal recall to Dodge,” he says “At least that’s what I hope.”

bpope@wardsauto.com