Comic Jim Gaffigan headlines ads for new Chrysler minivan – USA TODAY
Move over, soccer moms. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is targeting young fathers in its new marketing campaign for the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan in four ads starring comedian Jim Gaffigan that have begun airing.
The campaign, titled “Dad Brand,” will be one of FCA’s biggest ad campaigns of this year. To be successful, FCA must persuade people to buy the new Pacifica after years of sales declines in the minivan segment caused by consumers’ growing preference for crossovers and SUVs. The automaker also must persuade young buyers that the Pacifica is more stylish than the boxy, family haulers of the past.
Olivier Francois, chief marketing officer for FCA, said Gaffigan was the perfect father for the first wave of marketing for the Pacifica.
“What is a minivan? To me, as European … I tend to see a giant box on wheels that you sell to a population that is very value-driven,” Francois told the Free Press. “So, it’s a soccer mom product. And that’s great. We decided to challenge the perceptions. So we put a dad in the minivan.”
The campaign includes nine different ads with Gaffigan, with his five children who range in age from three to 12. The successful comedian is the author of “Dad Is Fat,” a book that debuted at No. 5 on the New York Times’ best-seller list in 2013.
“We stumbled on the perfect dad,” Francois said. “I was not really looking for an endorser. I was really looking for the epitome of dad and fatherhood. And and he is the epitome of a real dad.”
With “Dad Brand,” the automaker is tapping into Gaffigan’s unique style of self-deprecating humor. The ads showcase how the technology in the new Pacifica helps incompetent, clueless fathers like Gaffigan deal with children.
In the first spot, which aired Monday during the NCAA March Madness final, Gaffigan refers to himself as “a considerate and caring father,” but he later reveals he barely knows the name of one of his kids.
In another ad, Gaffigan sits in the back of the minivan with the hatch open for a father-to-son chat with his son, but he again appears to forget his son’s name.
The ads with Gaffigan are part of a broader campaign for the Pacifica that the automaker will be rolling out in the coming weeks and months.
Francois said the automaker and its advertising agencies are working now on additional commercials that will continue to showcase the various technology and entertainment features that are part of the Pacifica. The company also will have additional ads later this year when a hybrid version of the Pacifica goes on sale.
“I am not going to win the battle for consumers with some big, generic message about families and America,” Francois said. “I am going to win the battle if I can convince them if I can provide this private jet experience … it’s about the features.”
The Pacifica, which was revealed in January at the will go on sale this month. It’s equipped with a redesigned 3.6-liter, V-6 Pentastar engine that produces 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque.
FCA said last month the pricing of the 2017 model will start at $29,590 for entry-level and $43,490 for the top-of-the-line model when delivery and destination charges are included.
Analysts say the new Pacifica is a big leap forward in terms of its design, technology and capability. Still, the Pacifica will face big challenges as one model will replace two iconic nameplates — the Chrysler Town and Country and the Dodge Grand Caravan.
Sales of all minivans in the U.S. have declined to just over 500,000 last year from about 1.37 million annually in 2000.
“The Chrysler brand invented the minivan 33 years ago and created an entirely new automotive category that uniquely addressed the needs of families,” Tim Kuniskis, FCA’s head of passenger car brands, said in a statement. “With millennial families in mind, our ‘Dad Brand’ campaign … conveys that the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica’s unprecedented level of functionality, versatility, technology and exterior design again transforms the segment.”