The Pacifica Dad brand

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

18 April 2016

Pacifica has a new brand face. Will that work?

There’s little that’s unique in Chrysler’s relaunch campaign of its Pacifica minivan. The messages are about having a safe vehicle to take care of your children, highlighting the van’s reliability, space and technology.

“The only aspect of the Pacifica campaign that might sink it is that Gaffigan describes buying a Pacifica as improving his ‘Dad brand.’ Ugh.”

Ho hum. We’ve seen and heard that a million times, which is why these spots would normally be ignored.

What makes the campaign different is its intense focus on the dad of the family, not the mother. The spots feature comedian Jim Gaffigan, using his real children with one spot including his wife.

You don’t normally associate a minivan with the father, but research suggest that the number of stay-at-home dads is increasing the US. Some sources say more than two million men are stay-at-home fathers.

The Gaffigan ads aren’t suggesting that the Pacifica is only for such dads, but the campaign does speak to a changing demographic. Traditional father-mother roles are changing, with more two-income families and a focus by many employers on work-family balance.

The positives and the negatives of the Pacifica campaign

If the campaign does nothing else, it makes you hesitate. I find it interesting that Chrysler has taken this strategy because it is unusual. Usually, car manufacturers simply regurgitate the same look, feel and approach as their competition.

But different is better in a world where we are inundated by thousands of advertising messages per day (even a logo on a pen is a message).

Chrysler relaunched the Pacifica (it had been discontinued a few years ago) even though sales of minivans have not been strong. Even with lower gas prices, consumers favor crossovers and SUVs over minivans.

The only aspect of the Pacifica campaign that might sink it is that Gaffigan describes buying a Pacifica as improving his “Dad brand.” Ugh. That is much too clever and clever is always your enemy in marketing.

The reason? Because clever is not believable, and feels written by an advertising agency so you immediately ignore it. That is, once you hear Gaffigan talking about his “Dad brand,” it stops becoming authentic because you know some copywriter wrote it and chuckled at its cleverness.

But let’s keep watching and see if more manufacturers take some chances.

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