A few sweeping statements:
- Throughout the history of agricultural advertising, there has never been a commercial with as much impact as Dodge’s Super Bowl spot.
- The major advertisers in ag magazines and farm broadcasting have just witnessed a Ph.D. course in how to communicate with their audience.
- “So God Made a Farmer” will outlast Apple’s famed 1984 ad that began the tradition of great Super Bowl advertising.
Ray Bowman, I respect your conservative point of view on things but your editorial on your The Farmer Feeds Us All blog comment “Many liberal voices are rising to decry the spot as commercial pandering and emotional manipulation” seriously detracts from the discussion and I know very few liberals who would agree with you. Let’s not lump organizations like HSUS and PETA under the liberal banner. We don’t want them hanging around our tent, either.
Trent Loos on Facebook pointed out that Paul Harvey, the radio personality who did the voice over, was tainted late in life by a curious romance with animal rights groups. It's a sad fact about a man who spent much of his life as an advocate of agriculture, but a non-issue when it comes to the impact of the commercial.
Andy Vance’s editorial on his 11 Warriors blog was spot on and the responses from his readers showed how much impact the commercial had on both ag and non-ag folks. For the two people in production agriculture and the millions of people who live in the big cities who haven’t seen it, here is the Youtube link.
Here is what Dodge accomplished in just a few seconds that we’ve all wanted to do for decades; they put American agriculture back in its proper place. They recognized the incredibly hard work and 24/7/365 dedication that it takes to be a farmer. They started a conversation among non farmers about how much they owe to the men and women who populate what too many people on either coast have dismissively labeled ‘fly over country.’
I hope it reversed the trend noted by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack when he made the honest and painfully truthful comment that agriculture was becoming irrelevant to the American political process. When the public takes notice of any issue like they have because of this commercial, things get moved to the front burner.
It reminded 98% of the population who lost their connection to the farm several generations ago what was left behind when their forebears migrated to the big city. On Facebook and Twitter, I read a lot of nostalgic remembrances of the life their grandparents lived ‘back in the day.’ Sure, it was a highly romanticized version – there were no shots of calving at midnight during a blizzard or stunted corn burned out by drought – but it was a vivid reminder of a lifestyle that’s disappearing from our collective consciousness all too soon.
We owe a debt of gratitude for “So God Created a Farmer” to Dodge and their ad agency for creating the ad, to Paul Harvey’s golden voice for speaking the words and to the unknown poet who wrote the words. May it continue to create a meaningful conversation between ag and non-ag people for years to come. The destructively hurled diatribes and the growing mistrust of late between those two groups have to end.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Chuck Jolley, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.