by Michael Dickens • see Whole Again
During the fourth quarter of Sunday night’s Super Bowl XLVII broadcast, Chrysler aired “The Year of the Farmer,” featuring its Dodge Ram pickup trucks (including, oddly, one Dakota). The voice was deep, familiar and legendary: the late radio broadcaster Paul Harvey.
“And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said ‘I need a caretaker.’ So God made a farmer,” preached Harvey in the advertisement’s opening lines.
The message delivered by Harvey’s oratory became immediately clear: It was a celebration of the hard work of America’s farmers.
The two-minute advertisement for Dodge Ram, which paid tribute to America’s farmers and was composed entirely of still photographs depicting the farming industry, won the hearts and minds of viewers on a night in which nearly half of the country’s TV sets were tuned in to watch the Big Game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.
If Chrysler’s two-minute tribute, “Whole Again,” introducing Jeep’s Operation SAFE Return (OSR) and recognizing the service of the men and women of the U.S. military was heartfelt and effective, equally so was “The Year of the Farmer.”
Harvey’s narration, evoking a church homily and patterned on the Biblical account of the creation, was taken from a 1978 speech, “So God made a farmer,” which Harvey gave to a national convention of the Future Farmers of America. It was set to a collection of stark, still photographs — both color and black and white — of farmers at work.
National Geographic’s William Albert Allard and documentary photographer Kurt Markus were among 10 noted photographers whom Dodge Ram commissioned to document everyday life on America’s farms. A total of 35 still images were used in the advertisement, which was a collaboration of Dodge Ram and the Richards Group of Dallas.
Bluefin Labs, quoted by the New York Times, said that the Ram was the “most social commercial” of the game, generating 402,000 comments, nearly four times as many as the most social ad in the 2012 Super Bowl.
As the advertisement concludes with the still image of a brand new Dodge Ram against the backdrop of a U.S. farm, we are reminded of one final message: “To the farmer in all of us.”
“For the past two years, we have used the largest viewing audience to highlight the pride, the resilience and the determination that form an integral part of the American character,” Sergio Marchionne, chairman and CEO of Chrysler, said in a press release.
Immediate reaction to “The Year of the Farmer” on Twitter was very positive. It resonated with farmers, with everyday Americans and even actors, too. One notable tweet from actor Gary Sinese read: “Paul Harvey was one of a kind. Brilliant use of ‘So God made a farmer.’ Great tribute to the American farmer. Wonderful ad.”
In declaring 2013 as the “Year of the Farmer,” the Dodge Ram brand is using Sunday night’s advertisement to kick off a year of programs that highlight the importance of of farmers. Ram is donating money to the Future Farmers of America with each viewing of the ad.
And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.” So God made a farmer.
God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt and watch it die, and dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.’ I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make a harness out hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. Who, [in] planting time and harvest season, will finish his 40-hour week by Tuesday noon and then, paining from tractor back, put in another 72 hours.” So God made the farmer.
God said, “I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bales, yet gentle enough to yean lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-comb pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the leg of a meadowlark.” So God made a farmer.
It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed, and brake, and disk, and plow, and plant, and tie the fleece and strain the milk. Somebody who’d bale a family together with the soft, strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh and then reply with smiling eyes when his son says that he wants to spend his life doing what dad does. So God made a farmer.
2013 Super Bowl ads: Whole Again ad • Bill Cawthon’s View • Year of the Farmer forum discussion
Also see: Imported From Detroit • Halftime in America • Chrysler ads
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