How Funny Or Die Hilariously Wove Brands Into Its Rose Parade Show

Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon reprise Cord & Tish

Cord Hosenbeck and Tish Cattigan—better known as Cord & Tish—are the announcers of the moment.

Played by Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon, the TV presenters—or rather, the intentionally bad parody of TV presenters—covered the 2018 Rose Parade for a special on Amazon, and then the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last May for a show on HBO.

But for the 2019 Rose Parade, Funny Or Die decided to broadcast Cord & Tish's show by itself—streaming it live across its site and various social media pages. 

Part of the fun of this in-house broadcasting approach was roping in brand sponsors to pay for it, and then doing amusing live reads—which turned out to be whole little two-minute sketches—for all four brands involved. 

The brands were Wendy's, Liquid Plumr, Dos Equis and Pedialyte. See the advertising segments here: 

Chris Bruss, president of Funny Or Die (and executive producer of the special), tells Muse that the brands had to take a leap of faith. After all, this was a live broadcast. There would be no second takes, and while the brands had signed off on rough scripts beforehand, Ferrell and Shannon were free to ad lib as needed. 

"We said, look, this is Will Ferrell and Andrew Steele. They write the show. They write the live reads for the brands. You really just have to go with us on this," says Bruss. "It was great that these clients were all so on board for that." 

There was a big upside for the brands, too. The cost of the involvement in the special was significantly less than what they'd normally have to pay to have Will Ferrell talk about their brand for two minutes at a time in a traditional ad format. 

"We were just trying to create a win-win for everybody," Bruss says. 

The extensive cross-platform livestream—running on FunnyOrDie.com, Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter—was also a first for Funny Or Die. "This is definitely the most ambitious thing we've done in terms of streaming across that many different platforms," Bruss says. 

He adds that the project showcased Funny Or Die's unique multifaceted capabilities as a company. 

"We were able to produce a television quality special, because we are television production company," he says. "We were able to secure major talent for that special, because of our strong ties to talent and Hollywood. We were able to broadcast to millions of people, because we are a digital publisher. We were able to get brands on board, because of our sales team and our pedigree within the ad community. And lastly, we were able to market the special because we are in the business of marketing our own television shows and get paid to market other television shows."

See the full "2019 Rose Parade with Cord & Tish" show below: 

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards.