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