By on April 9, 2016

Gaffigan Pacifica ad

Chrysler needed a pitchman who could rally a nation of parents around its all-important 2017 Pacifica minivan, so it called on Jim Gaffigan.

In a series of new commercials released by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the deadpan “everyman” stand-up comic talks up the Pacifica’s ability to improve one’s “dad brand.”

Gaffigan, known for refraining from profanity while practicing the time-honored art of observational humor, comes across as vaguely narcissistic and aloof in the ads, often forgetting the names of his own kids and watching video clips of himself on the Pacifica’s flip-up seatback monitors.

For Chrysler, Gaffigan’s relatively safe material and irascible, folksy approach is as edgy as it was prepared to go. If we could resurrect the late George Carlin to hock minivans, everyone would pull up a chair to watch the action, but the material likely wouldn’t lend itself to a strong brand message.

FCA’s chief marketing officer, Olivier Francois, was in full-on strategy mode when he made this pick. As stated by Forbes, “For the first time in a major, serious way, a minivan brand is appealing to fathers in a segment whose vehicles long have been associated with soccer moms.”

Chrysler has high hopes for the Pacifica, which replaces the Town & Country and Dodge Caravan as the automaker’s sole minivan offering later this year. Riding atop a new platform, with more technology than ever before and an industry first plug-in hybrid option, the minivan was long in development and needs to sell, sell, sell.

Will the Gaffigan ploy pay off? The folks at FCA and the workers at its Windsor, Ontario assembly plant sure hope so.

 

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70 Comments on “Jim Gaffigan Wants to Boost Your ‘Dad Brand’ With the Chrysler Pacifica...”


  • avatar
    Demon_Something

    “I just don’t want to look like the other parents.”- Parents, as they skip looking at this to get a Honda Pilot.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    Except Dad really wants a Hellcat version. :-)

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      I’d be happy with an R/T version (or S in Chrysler terms I suppose) to counter the Sienna SE. I really want to like the Pacifica, we’ll see when the Honda lease is up.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick 2012

        I’ve got an R/T Caravan and enjoy everything but the standard brakes. Actual performance isn’t bad, but it eats the things every 30k miles. Had I waited a year, I’d have the ‘big brake’ dual piston caliper and larger rotors.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Swap them over! Sounds like it should be a bolt on affair. I did the same with my 4Runner, bigger Tundra brakes bolt right on, and help with warping issues a lot.

  • avatar
    colin42

    As all good dad’s know is the wife’s who have veto rights on any vehicle purchases and my wife needs to be sold before a minivan enters our garage. I’ll take a plug-in hybrid please – if the price is reasonable

  • avatar
    JimZ

    oh gee, yet another “fathers are bumbling fools” ad campaign.

    • 0 avatar
      clivesl

      He isn’t a bumbling fool, he is brilliant in that by buying the van he can look like he’s good dad while actually giving minimal effort. It’s the dad dream and Jim Gaffigan is our dream animal.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        did you miss the “Can’t remember his kid’s names” part?

        • 0 avatar
          clivesl

          He can’t remember…Jack’s name because Jack is the the oldest and needs the least amount of help to survive. Classic dad triage!

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            well…Jimz does have a point.Or maybe I am being a bit sensitive and IF we added up all ads…the white male is bashed as equally as is women or other minorities.
            It just seems the going social PC warriors have allowed the singling out of this group for bullying.Everybody enjoys a good laugh at the bungling white male.

            But I don’t think you will ever see a white only dating service ad run as you do Blacksmeetbl;acks.com.
            Not sure this would even be allowed on TV as this is.

            But all humor makes fun of something…and I guess I have long ago accepted and now enjoy being laughed at and seeing the absurdity of my life.

      • 0 avatar
        John

        It’s the dad dream to look like a dad while actually giving minimal effort? Speak for yourself.

        • 0 avatar
          clivesl

          Well of course I’m speaking for myself!

          The point is that this is not an example of the bumbling dad trope, it is a far more clever bit of humor than that and I appreciate clever humor.

          Do I phone it in as a dad sometimes? Of course I do. Most dads I know do so as well from time to time. That doesn’t make us bad, it makes us human.

          Ironically, I just got done watching all of these with my 9 year old and pointing out all the clever bits to her. Laughing at this character of the half-involved dad is harmless fun.

          • 0 avatar
            Pantherlove

            Yeah, we white dudes have it so tough, TT.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            You’re not paying attention at all, go back to sleep.

          • 0 avatar
            TrailerTrash

            pantherlove

            dunno.
            Are we white and living in Appalachia? The Ozarks?

            When my father was a teenaged Italian kid in Chicago’s Taylor neighborhood…he got beat up on pretty often.
            But I guess brutality only exist in the cell phone/internet connected minds of the current know it all generations. Earlier problems in ethic neighborhoods simply do not count.

            Pain and suffering just didn’t exist until you felt it.

            The words dago, spic, kike, mic and etc simply mean nothing to you today as you likely were raised in a pure loving everybody is equal world coddled by your helicopter parents.

  • avatar

    I love my G/F and possible future wife simply because the automotive veto goes to me. Also, she has comperable tastes.

  • avatar
    nguyenvuminh

    Three things would make me sign the check
    1) 18″ shorter and 3-5″ narrower
    2) hybrid and
    3) has the Honda or Toyota badge on it :-)

    Please don’t hate me because I hate Chrysler :-)

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      The vehicle you’re searching for,sans hybrid, is the departed Mazda 5. As a 5 owner, it’s a decent little box and more fun than it would seem. It is not as good at conveying an American family as an Odyssey, Pacifica or Sienna.

      The 5 is a “people or stuff” preposition like the small CUV’s out there. Our Odyssey can take both people and stuff places. Trip with one set of grandparents, i.e. to Costco or the movies, is a single vehicle task. That wasn’t the case with the 5. Vacation is no problem, everything fits inside, no roof box.

      If we only had one child, we’d have probably gotten another 5 or small wagon. But with two kids, the large minivan (?) is, to me, the best family device for those without off-road pretensions.

      • 0 avatar
        MrGreenMan

        It did not help that the Mazda 5 looked like it would tip over at any moment, moved like a snail (as all Mazdas do since they killed their V6 in the Mazda6), and had proportions that made the GLK look well-executed. It looked like a rolling compromise.

        • 0 avatar
          chris724

          I think the biggest problem with the Mazda 5, was it barely beat the larger minivans in gas mileage. It should have gotten 30+ on the highway.

        • 0 avatar
          gearhead77

          I don’t understand how you can say the Mazda looks like it will tip over. I think that about most small SUV/CUV’s. And since Mazda/Ford can make a decent chassis, it’s probably better planted than most small CUV’s.

          As for the snail comment, it’s definitely down on power compared to ,well everything. But it doesn’t drive like it 90% of the time, even with the very competent 5 spd auto. You must pick passing attempts or who you’ll “race” off the line carefully, but in normal driving, it’s not awful.

          I agree on the MPG and to a degree, on the rolling compromise comment. As I said, it’s not as efficient as it should have been, but when mine was new in 08, it wasn’t too far behind the pack in terms of mileage. But we didn’t want a large van then, since we had no kids but knew we would over the period of ownership. It was a good compromise at the time, but since we had twins, the Mazda didn’t stand a chance against the Oddy, T&C or Sienna when the time came.

          It it’s a parts bin, no doubt. Lots of FoMoCo stamps on parts, mostly Mazda 3 and Focus. And Mazda let it languish too, only a mild refresh in 2011 with the 2.5 and 6 spd auto and different styling cues (which I didn’t care for). Ours only has 50k, so it will be around for awhile, just not the primary family vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. 2nd gen. Toyota Sienna FTW. No comparison.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        2nd gen Sienna AWD would be my choice as well, for perhaps some less than expected reasons: 1 inch lift over the standard Sienna’s already decent 6ish inches, for a total clearance that surpasses the likes of the CRV and other neutered crossovers. Secondly, it uses Toyota’s “old” AWD system, the ones with a true center differential. It is as close as I can get to my family’s old 4wd Mazda MPV, but with more interior room and power, but minus a bit of ruggedness (MPV was solid rear axle, rwd based). My cousin’s husband in Novosibirsk has one of these, a well worn XLE with 160k miles on it imported from the US. We had no problem taking some muddy, overgrown dirt roads to the dacha.

        2nd gens also had a nicer interior than the 2011+ vans, they straddle that generational Toyota gap between the awesome overbuilt interiors of the 90s and when Toyota really went to crap with the ’07 Camry, ’09 Corolla, and Venza.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          My aunt has a 2010 Sienna that’s either an XLE or a Limited AWD – and it’s very Lexus-like inside. Quiet and comfortable.

          I just wish she’d keep the leather clean.

  • avatar
    clivesl

    Well that series of ads does it for me. Looks like the Pacifica is the winner as the replacement for the Sienna. I have to support that kind of comedy.

  • avatar

    They’d never make an ad with a comparable female character these days. Women have long memories for what they perceive as slights and they make 80% of consumer purchase decisions in America. That’s why you’ll never see a “bumbling mom” in a commercial.

    Boys so rarely get to see positive male role models in popular culture. We’ve gone from Ward Cleaver to Peter Griffin. Yes, I know the archetype goes back to Jackie Gleason on the Honeymooners (and probably in vaudeville before that) but Ralph Kramden had some positive character traits. He went to work every day at a job he hated so he could support himself and his wife.

    On a related subject, there’s an ad running on the radio these days for life insurance from AIG direct. The female narrator describes how the death of a family friend made her think of her own mortality and how that might affect her family. Then she discusses getting life insurance for her husband.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, I don’t think the dad here is that “bumbling,” but the portrayal of fathers in pop media is indeed mixed. When my kids were younger, they watched Disney channel incessantly, and without fail, every father on those shows was either a) absent, or b) a moron.

      Then again, I can think of any number of movies and shows where the dad is the hero. Examples: that whole “Taken” series, “Ant-Man,” “Man of Steel,” “Juno,” and some others. The highest rated show on TV, “The Walking Dead,” has all kinds of decent, protective dads – Rick and Herschel are good examples. Even the Governor had a soft dad side.

      I also think modern media is becoming far fuller of women who are absolutely awful mothers. Examples: “Nurse Jackie,” “Weeds,” “Juno,” and some others come to mind.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m a few years out of date as I stopped watching television when I decided that the cable bill wasn’t worth it. The only things of value that I believe that I missed were the final seasons of Justified and Sons of Anarchy. I’ve never watched Walking Dead or Breaking Bad, but then I never saw an episode of Friends either, nor will I ever read Catcher in the Rye (though I’d read that before anything by Sylvia Plath).

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          Wow…pay the bill just to get the final season and show of Justified.

          Then cancel.

          I think not since Deadwood has there been a better ending and show.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “We’ve gone from Ward Cleaver to Peter Griffin.”

      Peter Griffin is a fat and loud buffoon. However, he is also married to someone much more attractive than him. In fact, the “bumbling husband with beautiful wife” seems to be a common media device. So, it evens out I guess?

      Also, I think this will always be my favorite car ad targeted at women:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yBj_1c1Jmg

      • 0 avatar
        MrGreenMan

        Lois Griffin is pretty stupid, too. She’s the bawdy and brainless daughter of a billionaire who hooked up with the towel boy at the pool because he had some tight game.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      They should make humorous ads like that. It should be fun for all of us to look at the cartoon side of our lives without getting angry. Women laughing at women should be OK.

      After all…our lives are funny, and perhaps fruitless and insignificant, and we should recognize and celebrate this.
      It just gets bad when one realizes his/her particular group downgrading is somehow socially acceptable and others not.
      That is when the justified anger creeps up.

      I suppose the feeling was equally painful for blacks during the early years of Hollywood.
      The White Way…or the Mighty White Of You comments I hear in the old movies makes me cringe.
      Or the only roles the black actor had was service in the home…and you had to talk the talk no matter your education or background. You want to work in Hollywood…play the part.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    This kind of confirms what I always figured – it’s DAD, not Mom, who actually wants the van. Why? Simple – look at all the gadgets. The gear selector works like a volume control! Kick the rocker panels to open the doors! Electric tailgate! Those built in video screens! Built in vaccuum! (Well, that may be Honda)

    What guy wouldn’t geek out on that stuff?

    Hell, I even want one now, and I have zero need for one.

    Dads rule!

    • 0 avatar
      clivesl

      This.

      I love my van because I can haul anything I want without preparation.
      I can push it to 8/10ths on an off-ramp and get the giggles while basically doing the speed limit.
      I get over 20 mpg while semi-regularly using all of the HP on tap.
      And I think she’s pretty.

      Beyond that everything else is about what other people think, and I’ve known enough people to ascribe the proper value to their opinion of me.

      • 0 avatar
        chris724

        I agree with clivesl. Others opinions of me are pretty much worth nothing. My wife is still driving our ’06 T&C. It’s getting some rust below the sliding doors, but everything mechanically still works fine. And it holds everything our family of 5 needs for a long vacation. I love the hideaway compartments under the floor. I can pack a ton of stuff in there. The 3.8L has got the TORQUE, which I always announce to the kids when I need to use it. It gets 25mpg on the hwy, if I keep it to 70mph. The main downside is the abysmal city mpg. A hybrid minivan would definitely be on my list for a new one.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        No one suspects the minivan or expects it to be competently driven. Stealth speed indeed.

        • 0 avatar
          clivesl

          Yeah, I have a favorite onramp that always good for at least one look of surprise when I hit it at 60 and then accelerate thru the turn.

          I can feel when she grabs and then it’s just punch it and go. That is all the fun I need.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      Women have seemingly driven the evolution of the family cruiser by refusing to be seen in the type of car their mother hauled the family in. It drove us to minivans from wagons, and then to butch SUVs, and then to jellybean CUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      I love the van as well and am excited about the hybrid version. I would love to have all of this AND be able to drive the 30ish miles without the fuel.
      Not so sure I will enjoy losing the Stow N Go…but it will depend on how easy to take out the hybrid seats.

      But I will soon see as the hybrid news should break pretty soon….

      • 0 avatar
        clivesl

        That’s going to be the question for me as well. I was looking forward to not having to store seats in my garage, but the not buying gas any longer may trump that.

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      The Pacifica will offer a built-in vacuum too – one that FCA say is more powerful and better placed than Honda’s

  • avatar

    Now they just need to offer a version with a microwave and freezer, so you can make hot pockets while you are driving.

  • avatar
    April S

    Boo Hoo, men are being picked on again.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    In spite of my disdain for the ‘stupid man’ approach to all ads these days, I actually liked these ads.

    However, it’s ironic that as our culture bemoans the isolationist ‘screen’ fixation of its children, car mfrs and advertisers continue to promote it with on-board entertainment systems so parents can anesthetize their children for the trip.

    As I’ve mentioned here before, as a father of 5 kids, I’m adamantly opposed to vehicle entertainment systems (for our family). We told our kids to look outside and enjoy the countryside, or read a book. Yes, there were some 5-hour trips with a lot of crying kids, but not many.

    If you want to know why people are interested in autonomous vehicles and the demise of the stick shift transmission, it’s because we’re training our kids to despise the journey in favor of the destination.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Im glad I clicked on this article, because your comment made it worth it. I couldnt agree more.

      But, I do like the new Pacifica, if only because it is now the best looking minivan as its pretty much a minivan-shaped Chrysler 200. I really do like the current 200, wish it was doing better sales wise.

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      I don’t see how reading a book whilst on a 5-hour trip is any less anesthetizing than watching a movie. I’m all for taking in the scenery, but I recall childhood trips up and down I-95 and there isn’t really much to look at other than an unchanging highway lined with trees.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        Agreed. If there’s anything I learned about the world from the back seat of the Caravan, it’s that there’s essentially nothing on I-90 from Sioux Falls to Rapid City, and even less from there west. And I would only look out the window after I got too carsick to read or play Pokemon Silver (which happens a lot more than normal when your vestibular system is permanently imbalanced).

        • 0 avatar
          Wheatridger

          Fields of sunflowers.
          Vast skies.
          Colossal thunderstorms.
          Wall Drugs.
          Badlands.
          The Corn Palace.
          The MIghty Missouri.

          (Among the things I’ve seen up there- and I’m glad that I did.)

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    For whatever reason, Fiatsler decided to step down from any claims to own this segment by killing the twins and replacing them with this.

    This ad campaign is too much “try hard” – welcome to the bottom, again, FCA. No amount of Hellcats will save you. Free Jeep.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I DO NOT GET THIS. Take a segment you created and after taking on all comers are one of the last men standing, and ditch the vehicles that got you here? And replace them with a moniker from a vehicle that never really caught on? I really don’t understand what they’re trying to do here.

      Sure, the mini-twins weren’t always considered best-in-class, but they were pretty darn good and had some class-leading features. Their biggest albatross was ChryCo’s reputation for so-so quality compared to Honda and Toyota, calling it Pacifica won’t change that.

      The ads are OK. You’re not going to sell a van to a man who doesn’t have a sense of humor. Not sure how they’ll market to the “I don’t want to look like a soccer mom” soccer moms.

      • 0 avatar
        npaladin2000

        Unless you want a RWD Hellcat version (and let’s be frank, who DOESN’T want one?) then the minivan no longer belongs in Dodge’s product lineup, which is supposed to be a performance car identity now.

      • 0 avatar

        The Caravan and Town and Country (well, originally the Caravan and Voyager) mostly existed so that both Dodge and Chrysler/Plymouth dealers would have a minivan to sell. Now that dealers are Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram, there really isn’t a reason to have two similar vehicles. The original Town and Country was supposed to be a “luxury” minivan, but they aren’t really trying to position Chrysler as a luxury brand anymore. And the Town and Country name mostly harkens back to the original generation version, which came with rapid-fading Di-Noc fake woodgrain.

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        The irony being soccer moms all moved on to 3-row crossover SUVs by now.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I think the Pacifica getting smaller and losing interior room, all while increasing in price will be absolutely ruinous to sales. Haven’t people figured out that in America we love to buy ‘by the pound?” The Traverse sells well despite being an old platform because it’s so stinkin’ huge and has best interior room in the class. Caravans sold great because they went toe-to-toe interior room wise with the Japanese options, and undercut them on price. Why they’d walk away from such a cut and dry formula for success is beyond me.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Cute adverts .

    If they upset you , you have serious insecurity issues .

    I too don’t allow electronic crap in the car , this upsets my teenaged foster boys but only the first time , then they look out the windows and see there’s a world out there just waiting for them .

    Sometimes being a Luddite/Dinosaur is good ~ why not just toss your precious children in the back of a deathtrap station wagon and drive defensively like millions did before you came along ? .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    la834

    The last of these adverts doesn’t tell you anything about the vehicle, and the first two only point out a few features, things that could have been added to any competing van that wasn’t all-new. Here we have a completely redesigned vehicle on an all-new platform with an exclusive plug-in hybrid option and the commercials do nothing to let anyone know this.

    Worse, they reinforce the image of minivans as being something you put up with because you you’re a parent rather than desirable multi-purpose vehicles that are great for many things beyond kid-hauling. Highlanders and Pilots are bought primarily as kid-haulers too, but can you imagine them being advertised as such? Anyone trying to sell minivans should look at VW microbus advertising from the ’60s and ’70s for inspiration; it’s hard to believe now, but when new the VW bus was advertised as a family vehicle not a bohemian lifestyle statement.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Gaffigan actually has five kids, so at least they picked a celebrity that can fully appreciate the van. His family travelled with him on his your bus during his most recent tour.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    First ad I saw, I thought, “I’ve seen this before.”

    That distracted, clueless but self-contratulatory father figure come straight out of Canada 20 years ago. Ever see Red Green try to mentor a young lad through a DIY project?

  • avatar
    alawat

    Gaffigan is a great choice to push a minivan. He’s a father of 5 kids, it puts him in a good position to influence the ‘family dad’ demographic.


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