The producers of Anchorman 2 are wondering why their popular character and clever marketing tactics haven't translated into box office success. The answer is simple ‑ the movie isn't that good.
Will Ferrell is well liked. Ron Burgundy is funny. Having Ferrell as Burgundy do the news in Fargo and appear in ads for Dodge sparked a lot of buzz. But all that didn't overcome people's reaction to the movie itself. Common comments are that it wasn't as good as the original and the concept, especially after all the pre-release airtime, had become tired.
Word-of-mouth marketing can generate interest or it can put a damper on interest. Success or failure all depends on how good the product is in the minds of people talking about it.
The Los Angeles Times speculated the disappointing ticket sales could be the result of over-saturation. Burgundy was a victim of being over-exposed before the movie debuted. It's also possible that the fans Ferrell attracted in 2004 when the original Anchorman was released have moved on.
However, the most convincing argument is that the best word-of-mouth marketing campaigns center on products, services or movies that people think are great. People who saw Anchorman 2 thought it was not-so-great.
The movie may turn out to be a major money-maker, but it won't go down on anyone's list as a marketing success. Too bad. The marketing was terrific. It was the movie itself that was subpar. And that's something that marketing can't cure.