These Kids Can Sell: A look at Chrysler’s “Pacifikids” Campaign

While I was having my breakfast on a rainy Sunday morning, I took a glance at my local diner’s main television which was airing a car commercial. I could not hear much of the audio, but the commercial was visually appealing and lots of fun to watch from where I was sitting. It seemed to fit the theme of a Black Friday ad, that incorporated the feel and excitement of the Christmas season. The main thing I noticed about the ad, was the heavy use of several spirited children to provide a family-focused and jolly theme. I immediately thought, “these kids are out here selling high end vehicles.” When I got home, I tuned into the San Diego Chargers game and I got to see and hear the same ad three more times. It was a commercial for Chrysler’s “PacifiKids” campaign:

In the commercial, the children, or Pacifikids, provide a lot of important insight and details about the new Chrysler Pacifica. The ad uses actress, Brooklyn Decker from “Grace and Frankie” while featuring three children between the ages of 8 and 11. The children are spread throughout the ad, promoting the vehicle’s new features and benefits, while using the terminology of an experienced car salesman. The campaign began in May and intends to spread a great deal of content through YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

When I got to hear what the kids were saying in the commercial, I was quite surprised but also a little upset about the continued exploitation of kids in major ads and commercials. For years, there have been a lot of discussions on companies featuring kids in their ads as a marketing strategy. Most people believe that using children for marketing practices is unethical and dangerous to the child’s mental health in the future. While the process of developing effective stories and messages can be difficult, simply using the positive and youthful energy of children has become a reliable strategy. To better understand how the innocence of family and children can be used effectively, I decided to look for more Pacifikids ads and I came across one particular commercial that focused on family activities entitled, “Family Game Night” which premiered just 2 weeks ago:

More car companies are beginning to understand the value of providing family experiences to consumers. According to a blog called Yashi, “Advertisers feature kids in their commercials because they are innocent, straightforward, and cute.” Therefore, companies are willing to feature kids in countless ways which includes presenting them as adults. In this Subaru ad, a young man goes through his hectic day:

There can be a lot said about the use of children for marketing and capitalism, but at some point, consumers will have to determine whether these messages have anything to do with the actual product or service. In an article provided by Matthias Leyrer, he states that cars are interesting to market because they are tangible products that don’t have to be presented as such. Another interesting observation was that most car commercials won’t even feature their cars in natural elements. It is clear that the strategy of using children in marketing practices won’t die down any time soon. So, are we really losing track of how much kids are being exploited in big ads and marketing efforts?

Leyrer, M. (2015). The absurdity of the American car commercial. Retrieved from http://streets.mn/2015/02/06/the-absurdity-of-the-american-car-commercial/

PR Newswire. (2016). Chrysler “Pacifikids” make debut in new digital and social campaign for all-new 2017 chrysler pacifica. Retrieved from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/chrysler-pacifikids-make-debut-in-new-digital-and-social-campaign-for-the-all-new-2017-chrysler-pacifica-first-in-video-series-features-actress-brooklyn-decker-300276237.html

Rhoads, A. (2013). Exploiting children one commercial at a time. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anai-rhoads/exploiting-children-one-c_b_3386101.html

Yashi. (2015). How top brands are featuring kids as an advertising strategy. Retrieved from https://yashi.com/blog/how-top-brands-are-featuring-kids-advertising-strategy

 

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6 Responses to These Kids Can Sell: A look at Chrysler’s “Pacifikids” Campaign

  1. Kristina says:

    This is an interesting consideration regarding marketing with kids. I think there simply just has to be a balance by those marketing in the use of kids in ads. Additionally, regarding exploiting kids, there should be a balance of how much the kid should be involved in ads by the parents. Marketing has to do with gaining the attention of the target audience and in the case of cars – especially the Pacifica – the focus is family which will involve kids.

  2. Dawn says:

    While I agree kids should not be exploited, the Pacifica is a family car, so to market it without showing kids or a family wouldn’t seem right. Now, marketers certainly know that kids have influence over their parents, and if the kids like the car they are trying to sell, all the better. But because it is a family car, I don’t feel like the kids are being taken advantage of.

    In addition to whether or not a product is kid-related, marketers certainly use children to evoke qualities they want to convey: In addition to being cute, funny, and charming; kids also convey innocence, youth, and love. Because they can stir so many different emotions, they will probably continue to be widely used by marketers. I am not sure if that is necessarily unethical – it might be more of a case by case determination.

  3. Kiley says:

    As a mother, the idea of exploiting children to sell anything seems wrong. However, when I’m shopping for a car…the first thing I think about is it’s safety features for my small children riding in the back. So I definitely get it when it comes to using kids in marketing. I think ethics comes into play when discussing what exactly it is that you’re trying to sell. If there is a reason to show me kids, like the Pacifica does, then great. If not, then we have a problem. I think many companies get into hot water by using the innocence of children to make themselves or their products/services seem trustworthy and honest. This is, at least in my mind, comes across as unethical.

  4. Hibah says:

    Depending on what the item is, using children for marketing can be wrong. However, with this ad it seems fun and innocent. Children’s safety and functionality is a big concern for most parents when purchasing a car, so it only makes sense that they’re part of the commercial. There’s a commercial on TV right now for auto trader which shows how a parent changes cars throughout the years as their children grows. The ad shows a girl from childhood to early adulthood, and how her activities have changed as she’s grown. First, the dad needed a car with more leg room because she was growing. Then her dad needed a bigger car to carry around all her sports gear, the next time she was getting her own car. It was a sweet way to show how every parent’s decision revolves around their children.

  5. Katherine says:

    Hi Joseph,

    Your blog post was an interesting read. I can appreciate the concern for ensuring children are not exploited by advertisers, but for me, it didn’t seem like these ads were crossing a line. As some of our other classmates stated, children can influence the purchase of a vehicle and it seems reasonable to feature kids in ads for family vehicles. I thought these were great examples of advertisements that included children but yet were not products for children. Your post raised a lot of great considerations. Great work!

    Katie

  6. Cecilia says:

    Thanks for a great post.

    This is an important topic easily overlooked. It really is hard to know what’s acceptable and harmful. I think in these examples the kids’ roles are probably safe but to your point, this is an area that can easily turn into something greater and more threatening. But I can’t help it, that Subaru ad has me laughing out loud!

    Cecilia