Monday, February 11, 2013

Dodge Ram truck ad during Super Bowl, honoring farmers, continues to spark reactions

One of the photos from the ad (Daily Yonder)
Over a week after the Super Bowl, people are still talking about one commercial. A Dodge two-minute ad featuring images of American farmers, set to the late Paul Harvey's "God Made a Farmer" speech, aired during the event that doubles as the Olympics of American advertising. USA Today's final rankings of Super Bowl ads had the commercial finishing third, but reaction to it has ranged from warm praise to harrumphing derision, reflecting debate about modern American agriculture.

Radio commentator Harvey made the speech  in 1978 to the Future Farmers of America convention. "The job description he laid out should have been enough to send them all running: Hundred-hour workweeks; make-do lifestyle; the kind of humble, hardscrabble simplicity that sounds a lot more noble in novels and speeches than it feels in real life," wrote Jennifer Hemmingsen, a columnist for The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who was 5 years old in 1978.

Hemmingsen recalled how Harvey's words described the farming world her grandparents held dear and was an important part of her childhood, even as it was slipping away with small farms being replaced by larger ones. "We Iowans all have our own versions of this story, " she wrote. "Still we thrilled to the still photos of Dodge's Super Bowl ad last week; felt our hearts hum to the purposeful tune of Harvey's words. We couldn't help it. It spoke to deep-held beliefs about who we are."

Despite her approval of the ad, Henningsen noted, "Today's small farmers need more than sainthood -- they need a chance at preserving their livelihood. A chance at passing on more than a set of romantic notions for future generations."

Longtime "Food and Farm" columnist Alan Guebert had a much less favorable reaction in his new "View from the Levee" column in the online Daily Yonder.

"Yes, it was a heaping helping of raw American myth, but myth sells," Guebert summarized. He said a Progressive Farmer online article on Super Bowl Sunday, describing a 50-square-mile family farming operation in Kansas, was a much more accurate depiction of modern American farming than the small-farm lifestyle lauded in the ad.

Guebert also questioned Harvey's suitability as the voice of the American farmer, noting that Harvey was a supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and "No real cowboy, pick-up truck or not, can stand PETA."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a small farmer and I think it was the best commercial of all in the superbowl. You all dweel to much into it just take it as it is a cmmercial. That's what's wrong with this country we worry to much about the small crap and it's all small crap.