The images had hardly faded from the screen before social media channels exploded with an outpouring of emotion from the agricultural community. The God Made A Farmer ad that aired during the Super Bowl game took farm folks by surprise and struck a chord that is still being herd a week later. The commercial for Ram trucks featured wonderfully written and delivered prose by the late Paul Harvey over images past and present of farm life. Within minutes, the on-line video of the commercial had gone viral. Within 5 days, the 2 minute video had been viewed and shared on the internet 10 million times. By Monday, however, the griping and the sniping began and soon reached a fever pitch in farm country.
The ad touched more than just farmers; non-farm folks also responded. The ad was hailed as one of the best ads during the game. Ohio blogger Matt Reese suggested this was because the ad stood out as such a contrast to the over-sexed and sleazy ads that dominated the broadcast. The Ram ad celebrated the rural spirit, hard work, morals, and family — which is exactly what the ad was designed to do. What many in the farm community missed in their euphoric, emotional reaction to the ad is that this commercial was not about agriculture or farming; it was about selling trucks, specifically Ram trucks.
Ram brand chief Fred Diaz said in an interview at the Chicago Auto Show that traffic to the Ram website has jumped 10 times more than normal since the Super Bowl. The God Made a Farmer ad was known in marketing circles as an image piece. It was designed to place an image in your mind that you would associate with Ram trucks, that image being one of hard work, rugged dependability, reliability, honesty, strength, and family. Those are all attributes of most of the farmers and farm families I know and that Paul Harvey knew. Chrysler wanted to associate those attributes with their truck. That is why they hired 10 photographers to capture images that illustrated those characteristics.
Since the airing of the spot, there has been plenty of whining that Paul Harvey was a poor choice because he was a supporter of animal rights activist groups. While there is evidence to support this claim, some broadcasters I know who worked with Mr. Harvey say he really did not believe in their cause and backed away from supporting them in later years. All of this sniveling is irrelevant. Mr. Harvey was not the focus of the spot. The words were powerful and powerfully delivered. They made farmers feel good about themselves and made most non-farm viewers feel good about farmers.
Chrysler used farmers, rural America, and the FFA to polish the image of their product. In the process, that gave farmers a venue we could have never afforded: 2 minutes in the middle of the most-watched television event of the year to show off our good side. On top of that, it was a positive message, unlike other corporations like Chipotle which used their national TV spot to paint a less than positive image of agriculture and used an iconic country music singer connected with Farm Aid to help deliver their message. This is not the first time agriculture has been used to sell trucks; Ford and Chevy have used Rodeo stars and Cowboy Poets like Baxter Black to promote their vehicles. In fact, farmers are used to sell all kinds of products. We just don’t notice them as much because they usually don’t have half naked woman in them.
So, let’s slap ourselves on the back for being on the Super Bowl, give Dodge a high 5, and get back to work producing the food, fiber, and fuel for Americas — an America that has no idea what we do, but for the most part, thinks we are pretty cool anyway.
by Gary Truitt