Chrysler's Pacifica Ads Grow Mildly Risque, As All Minivan Ads Should

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Of all the automakers embroiled in the Mad Men-era rush to plumb the psyches of American car buyers, Chrysler’s Dodge division stood head and shoulders above the rest in one key marketing element: sex. It sells, apparently, and Chrysler Corp. made sure to instill a little bit of it, overtly or subconsciously, into its print and TV advertising. As the circa ’66-67 “Dodge Rebellion” campaign gave way to 1968-70’s “Dodge Fever” gambit, the impact of the counterculture movement and America’s rapidly liberalizing attitudes soon became apparent in Dodge’s ad copy.

It was this era in Chrysler’s marketing history that spawned what’s arguably the most sexist (and psychosexual) car ad ever printed: Dodge’s 1969 Charger R/T ad, titled “The Eternal Triangle.”

These were sexy times for America, but even sexier times for Dodge, which had clearly grown too hot under the collar. The onset of the 1970s saw the brand put the tie-dyed shirt and address book in storage, trading its hedonistic copy for the far tamer “Dodge Material” campaign, and the rest is history (some of it quite embarrassing). Given this rich marketing heritage, it’s nice to see Chrysler attempt to spice up a family-oriented minivan with sex.

Two ads came out this week for the Chrysler Pacifica, one featuring comedic actress Kathryn Hahn (who’s now an FCA ad veteran), the other a continuation of the brand’s “Street Smarts” campaign.

It’s odd that both of these ads, released Wednesday, get a little suggestive in their content. As it’s 2018, we’ve grown used to car ads that feature, essentially, ourselves, our life goals, and our ideologies. Oh, and family, family, family. New car marketing, when it’s not pretentious, confusing, or maudlin, is usually eye-rolling or annoying in some other way. When an audience stands a chance of having fun, we notice.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Luke42 Luke42 on Oct 19, 2018

    Does anybody under 60 ever watch TV commercials? I'm the target demographic for the Pacifica Hybrid (3 kids, own a minivan, former Prius owner, EV enthusiast), but this is the first I've ever heard of these commercials. The commercials are pretty meh. My minivan-driving friends are much more entertaining.

  • Brn Brn on Oct 19, 2018

    That's it. They've crossed the line. The shark has been jumped. Pigs are flying. We're now shooting vertical commercials??? I'm done!

  • Akear Toyota wins once again, while GM has egg on its face.
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  • Jeff Buy whatever works for you if you own an EV and are happy with it good, if you buy a hybrid or plug in hybrid and it works for you good, if neither and you like your ICE the way it is that is also good. I believe over time EVs will get better and have a larger segment of the market.
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