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Dodge Ram Super Bowl Ad Gets Mixed Reviews

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A Super Bowl ad celebrating America’s farmers earns two distinctly different reactions from the agricultural community.

For the millions of Americans who watched Super Bowl XLVII on Sunday night, the buzz on Monday morning was about the Baltimore Raven’s big win, the power outage at the start of the second half, Beyonce’s acrobatic half-time performance, the Destiny’s Child reunion, the vocal artistry of Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keyes, a showdown between the two head coaches (who just happen to be brothers), and don’t forget the food!

And, in between commercials for Doritos, Coke, M&Ms and Budweiser, there was one commercial that aired that made everyone shut up and listen.

The Dodge Ram brand has declared 2013 “The Year Of The Farmer” and it employed a riveting commentary about agriculture as part of a Super Bowl ad spot that grabbed viewers’ attention. It was a recording of Paul Harvey’s 35-year-old poem, “So God Made A Farmer,” which was voiced over photographs of farmers and ranchers living and working in their everyday lives.

Harvey, who died in 2009, was known for his broadcasting catchphrase, “the rest of the story,” and he recited the poem at the 1978 National FFA Convention. You can listen to the poem in its entirety in the video clip above, but here’s an excerpt of that poem:

“And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker.’ So God made a farmer.”

The commercial ends with, “To the farmer in all of us. Guts, Glory, Ram.”

After the commercial aired, I felt a chill run up my spine, and I wiped away a stray tear as I realized millions of Americans had just watched the first real commercial of the evening. It wasn’t a hilarious take on why you should eat Doritos, drink Budweiser or hire GoDaddy.com to build your website. Instead, it was a serious conversation about the less than 2% of Americans who risk it all to be in production agriculture. I couldn’t have asked for a better commercial to be aired during a more perfect time on network television.

Even better, Ram is encouraging folks to watch, share and support the video. For every view and share, the Ram brand makes a donation, up to $1 million worth, to support FFA and assist in local hunger and educational programs. Does it get any better than that?

However, some in agriculture are displeased with the commercial. Using the words of the late Paul Harvey, I will give you “the rest of the story.”

My Facebook and Twitter feeds were on fire yesterday as word started spreading that Harvey, known for his soothing and halting radio voice, was also a vocal animal rights activist. In fact, just a decade ago, many agriculture publications were urging folks to turn off the radio whenever Harvey’s broadcast came on.

In addition, many are frustrated that Harvey is now a spokesperson for American agriculture and are choosing not to support Ram’s 2013 endorsement of the American farmer and the FFA. This, in my eyes, is a colossal mistake.

We are missing the forest for the trees!

Sure, I’m no stranger to standing up against animal rights activists, and this wouldn’t be the first time that FFA got mixed up with one. Remember in 2006 when Carrie Underwood, who is a Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) supporter and vegan, was invited to sing at the National FFA Convention? Well, as a high school student, I led the charge to boycott that concert, and more than 1,000 of us students stood up for animal agriculture and walked out of the concert hall when Underwood took the stage. Looking back, I realize it was an important thing to do to educate folks about HSUS and to encourage folks to be careful where they spend their money. The silver lining of that concert was the opening act of Jason Aldean, today a country superstar, who sang his hit song, “Amarillo Sky,” a chart-topping tribute to the American farmer.

But, I digress. This situation may seem similar, but we also have to see the positive side of this commercial. Sure, Harvey was an animal rights activist, but at one point in his career, he openly celebrated American agriculture. And, don’t you think it’s a kick to have an animal welfare sympathizer actually speaking up on behalf of agriculture in this commercial?

And, isn’t explaining our way of life a common goal we all share in agriculture today? Don’t we constantly preach to each other about using social media to share our stories? We try to educate folks, so that the vegans and vegetarians might douse their torches, drop their pitchforks, and try bacon again. And also so that the remaining 95% of Americans, who are unsure about what to believe, learn and accept that farmers and ranchers are people they can trust to tend to the animals, care for the land, and raise a safe food product.

Doesn’t this commercial accomplish exactly that?

I don’t care whether you buy a Dodge truck in 2013 or not. And, I don’t believe that loving this commercial and what it stands for, or the message it sends to our consumer, means that you are sympathetic to a guy like Harvey, who was an activist at heart. Frankly, I think bringing up bad things about a man who is no longer around to defend himself is in poor taste.

Perhaps the most important thing to note is that most Americans don’t even realize what political ties Harvey favored in his spare time. Instead, they remember him as the charming man on the radio, who signed off each daily segment with that familiar, “Paul Harvey. Good day.”

So, instead of getting into an uproar about the behind-the-scenes drama of this commercial, let’s focus on the important things. My takeaway is that 111.3 million people watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, and those viewers spent a couple of minutes of the big show learning about who we are in American agriculture.

God made a farmer to do the job so many are unable and unwilling to do. I’m darn proud to be one in this elite group of folks, and I thank you for your hard work in being a part of it, as well. Drama aside, this commercial is agricultural advocacy at its finest. I’m going to watch it, share it, support the FFA, and be thankful that we got such amazing exposure on TV this weekend. Will you do the same?

Discuss this Blog Entry 96

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

People in Agriculture everywhere are truely shooting themselves in the foot by not getting behind something positive about their way of life No Matter who's voice is behind it. The message is the same. This commercial is captavating in a positive way. The same way that those against agriculture use the most horrible photos they can find to generate shock and negative perseptions.

George Jackson (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

Well done Dodge! I heard this poem many years ago and using it during a super bowel with millions of people watching was the best advertisement for agriculture I have ever seen.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

Why not celebrate the positive way ranchers and farmers are portrayed and quit haggleing over something so far in the past. This could be huge for agriculture if we build on it.
Thanks Amanda and thanks Dodge.

Tom Roth (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

The inportant thing to take away from the commercial is the attention that it gave our industry. I get up every day and get to work with men and women who chose to work in production agriculture. I don't care about a man who has been dead or what his politics were. It gives us a platform. The question is, what will we do with the platform.

Beth (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

Well said. And yes, I will do the same!

Jeff (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

I was at the 1978 National FFA Convention in Kansas City when Paul Harvey made this great speech. With President Carter at the same convention this was by far what we took home as the highlight of a 10 day trip including the convention. At the time Paul Harvey was an icon and we all praised his great words. Sure I was disappointed in later years when he seemed to regress his views but the only ones talking about that now are those of us in the Livestock industry who felt blind sided and cheated by one we thought was our own. In the end and in the spirit which was intended at the time, this is a great great promotion for all of us in Agriculture. BTW in less than 40 hrs it has over 4 million views with countless other millions of views on thousands of hijacked or rebroadcasted tributes all around the internet. Did even Gangnam Style get than many views that fast. This is huge and we should ride the wave. I say it was nothing short of the greatest promotion for American Agriculture and in particular the US Farmers and Ranchers that we have ever seen. I for one am darn proud of Dodge for doing this and I will for ever remember the day it was spoken at the 1978 National FFA Convention when I was 16 years old and my sister was getting her American Farmer Degree.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

Thank you Dodge for stepping up to the plate. The success of this ad will insure that we see it again and again in the weeks ahead. Maybe production agriculture can follow up with some quality ads that will appeal to the 95% we need to be reaching every day. DW

on Feb 5, 2013

As Amanda says, we are missing the forest for the trees. My family, along with cousins and uncles, all farm (three beef farms, one dairy farm), and while none of us are 'activists' we are certainly animal rights advocates. Unfortunately, the terms 'activist' and 'advocate' bring to mind images of college kids chaining themselves to the door of the meat-packing plant. That is not me. As Paul Harvey said in the poem, ""God said, "I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a new born colt.....and watch it die....and dry his eyes and say 'maybe next year'."" This is what it is to be a livestock farmer. Some will say that I am a hypocrite, and there exists a moral disconnect between grieving (and even shedding a tear) over a dead calf, only to turn around the next day and send to slaughter a load of old cows, who have done nothing to deserve their grim fate but grow old, as we all do. As livestock farmers we raise animals for the sole purpose of eating them. However, I take pride in my cattle. I do not raise cattle for financial reasons. There are far easier ways to make money. Conversely, I also acknowledge that I care for my cattle well because it means more money in my pocket, but I also care for them well because they are MY cattle. I have 40 pets out there. Not pets like my dogs, who come running just to be petted and played with, but pets like my mom's cat, who is often indifferent to any human activity so long as she gets fed once a day. There is nothing more satisfying and pleasant then sitting in the lawn on a summer evening, with the dogs at my feet and a six-pack at my side, watching the cows and calves graze. Watching to see if any are 'in heat' and ready for breeding, or just watching to watch. They are not mindless automotons. They all have their own personalities and quirks. Some are friendly, some are playful. Some are divas, some are annoying. Some are just plain mean and agressive, but they often make the best mothers. Every day or two the calves take off on a stampede, for no reason, to the annoyance of their mothers and to the entertainment of anyone lucky enough to be driving by. A couple dozen 200 lb. calves running around with their tails sticking straight up in the air, and it's funnier than hell. In the late summer and fall I feel bad for them when they beller and fight, out of fear, when we are vaccinating them. But like giving shots to a baby, it is done for their own good. The purpose of my ramblings here is to point out that we should not chastise, boycott, or ridicule those who have different opinions of animal rights than us, but to respect their opinions and work hard to be the best caretakers we can be. We will never convince the extremeists, but if we do our jobs well there will be less extremeists in the future. Being a humane, caring, hardworking farmer is an honorable vocation, and there is no better example of an "animal rights advocate" than a responsible farmer who cares for his or her herd.

Blaine (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

Justin~ LOVE your ramble. Most of us can relate to almost every example you characterized! Thank you!

This has been a fun day for reading the blogs...other than Amanda's original blog which brought the topic to the table, this one is my favorite! Nicely done!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

This is just what "W.E." stated earlier, but he was ripped to shreds. ??

Janet (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

Well said, Amanda, and even better, Justin. I a 65-year old, seventh generation farmer/cattleperson living on land settled by my family in 1818. I consider myself a steward of the land and a caretaker, in the very deepest sense, of livestock.
BTW, Paul Harvey didn't write the piece. He claimed it arrived, anonynous and unsolicited, in the mail.

Janet (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

NIcely done, Justin. I am 65, living on land settled by my family in 1818. I consider myself a steward of that land and a caretaker, in the very deepest sense, of the livestock it supports. As someone once said "Take care of your cows, and they'll take care of you."
BTW, Although he certainly recited it, Paul Harvey did not write the piece. He claimed it arrived, anonymous and unsolicited, in the mail.

Kylie (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

I truly support all of your comments, it is not about the money it is about the love of what we do!!

on Feb 5, 2013

Well said...Thank you

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 6, 2013

I too am a farmer. I consider myself an "animal welfare advocate" but absolutely not an "animal rights advocate". The difference - a "rights" advocate believes animals have the same rights as humans including not to be used for food or clothing. After reading your post I think you practice animal welfare but are NOT an "animal rights advocate". Be care of the words you choose - they can an will be used against you in the court of public opinion.

Kristin Dewey (not verified)
on Feb 6, 2013

Thank you Justin for your post. Exactly what I wanted to also state in my comment. I come from a small scale cattle ranch, that has been in the family for 100 years. Some people just don't get it.

Kristin Dewey (not verified)
on Feb 6, 2013

Justin--one other thing....do you have your pet cattle named? My dad does. :)

Dwight (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

Excellent article. The ad was stupendous. Now, I know why god made me a farmer man. I might even buy a dodge truck
next time.

Nicole (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

So glad you walked out on a Carrie Underwood concert! Way to go all the FFA fans who did that!

Keith Evans (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

No good deed goes unpunished, as the response by W.E. and the other complainers proves.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

Ya know, just because a fellow doesn't totally agree with someone or is civil in discussion doesn't warrant such inane negativity. A critical analysis and critisicm are not the same things.

Paula (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

It was a riveting, mesmerizing ad and it seems to have captivated everyone watching. I did find the part about splinting the meadowlarks leg touching, and it also brings a message which we as farmers must take seriously. In our family we were raised to stop for pheasant nests and baby fawns, to try if at all possible to spare their life. I believe most farmers feel the same, and if we desire to be perceived in a positive light by the 98% of Americans who do not farm, we need to show them that we care about the land, the wildlife on it, and the farm animals in our care. I loved the ad, I think your article was right on, Amanda, and I especially love farming.

Kristin Dewey (not verified)
on Feb 6, 2013

Paula--I agree. My dad was taught to stop for the baby rabbits and pheasants, and to spare their life too. Because God made man to take care of the birds and wildlife. He taught me how important it is to value the life of the wildlife on our farm. As I said earlier, I come from a family owned small scale cattle ranch that has been in our family for 100 years. My dad to this day still does not let anyone shoot anything....except those darn prarie dogs!! :)

Judy West (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

The Dodge commercial was great and your commentary is even better. Keep up your good work!

Jan Hoadley (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

A tribute to all of agriculture - large, small, animal, vegetable, crop...it included all of agriculture. It's diverse, it's variety needed to feed all and support food choices.

Anthony Pannone (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

"So, instead of getting into an uproar about the behind-the-scenes drama of this commercial, let’s focus on the important things. My takeaway is that 111.3 million people watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, and those viewers spent a couple of minutes of the big show learning about who we are in American agriculture."

I know you don't reply to people's comments, EVER, but could you please provide a clearer definition of who the WE are in American agriculture that were represented in that commercial?

Darrell D. Anderson (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

Thanks for your comments Amanda on this awesome promotional opportunity for American agriculture. I too was shocked that some found fault with Paul's role in it, but regardless of that, it sent an incredible message to the largest audience we will ever have the chance to be in front of - can't put a $$ value on the impact of this positive message for agriculture.
Having said that, I did find it interesting that none of the focus groups or media testing gurus had the Dodge ad near the top of the list that night. They did however - almost every one of them - have the Clydesdale ad (notice I said the Clydesdale ad and not the Budweiser ad - that is the way most folks refer to it) ranked as the #1 commercial of the evening. While I think all of us in agriculture thought the Dodge ad was incredible - most folks in the country (the other 98% not daily involved in agriculture) could not relate to the Dodge ad, but the Clydesdale ad pulled at their heart strings and touched their emotion. And, until the Dodge ad appeared, I too thought the "Clydesdale" ad was going to easily be the best ad of the evening. So, I guess we should be thankful for both of them, and while I don't want to take anything away from the Dodge ad, the reality is that it grabbed those of us in agriculture far more than most uninformed viewers.

Revision (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

I loved the commercial. I loved it so much that I continued to think about it the next day. I remembered how I felt when I was watching it. I remember being encouraged, being half Mexican, that there was a picture of a Latino woman and boy (presumably her son). But that that the rest of the pictures where overwhelmingly white. Of the 15 pictures where the people are identifiable, 13 of them are caucasian (I am excluding back shots and the pictures of the hands, of which are evidently caucasian, as well). The picture of the Latinos are devoid of color, and I had to watch the video over again to realize that there was a black man, though passed over quickly and at a distance compared to the rest of the pictures. Furthermore, Native Americans are excluded from the commercial. While I don't expect Dodge to be an accurate lesson in history, I do feel as though the overwhelming applause the commercial received says something about the ignorance toward the darker side of our nation's history. IT makes since that the people in the pictures are overwhelmingly white, because the African-American and Native-American experience with farming is is not so rosie. To make things even messier--according to the commercial, this was God's divine will.

Leo McDonnell (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

Great job Amanda.
I'm a little concerned about your comment:
"many are frustrated that Harvey is now a spokesperson for American agriculture and are choosing not to support Ram’s 2013 endorsement of the American farmer and the FFA."
The many part bothers me. Myself, I have not talked to anyone that did not have great praise for this ad, and whether a few people in our industry like it or not, Paul Harvey brings recognition and credibility to the ad. Again, a very well written piece.

Terry Church (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

It's a great poem with a great story. The poem tells part of the Agriculture Story, and how important the people are that farm. Just think of the millions of people that saw the ad that have never thought anything about Agriculture or Farmers and their importance. In my opinion Dodge did a great thing for the American Farmer and getting some information out there for people to think about.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

MY friends all enjoyed the ad. I loved Paul Harvey and his voice and I choose to dwell on that and not on animal rights. That commercial was memorable, that's for sure. I liked it.

Melinda Clements (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2013

I think the commercial was awesome. Hats off to Ram for having the best Super Bowl Commercial by far!

on Feb 5, 2013

I loved this ad. I grew up on the farm, put myself through college by farming, and now work as an engineer on the Cummins Engine powering the Ram trucks. I bought back and now live back on the farm where I grew up. Yes, I would have liked to have seen more imagery from Midwest farming, but, nonetheless, I was very proud to watch this commercial that honored my farming background, brought to us by the Ram Product in which I have so much invested from my 31 years at Cummins.

on Feb 5, 2013

I loved the commercial. I grew up on the farm, put myself through college farming, and now work as Chief Engineer at Cummins on the diesel engine that powers the RAM trucks. I have been able to buy back the farm where I grew up, and am now living there. It was very touching for me to watch this commercial, relate to the farmer story, and then be surprised that it was brought to us by a product in which I have invested so much of my career. Sure, I would have liked to have seen more images of Midwest farming, but still, very touched, and very proud. Best commercial during the Super Bowl.

on Feb 5, 2013

I’m a 4th generation Montana farm girl, and my 78-year-old father and 77-year-old mother still farm the land my great-grandparents homesteaded…so the Dodge Ram/American Farmer ad really tugged at my heartstrings. (My grandparents listened to Paul Harvey every day at noon in their farmhouse kitchen.These same grandparents also made yearly trips to Corning, Iowa & ALWAYS brought me back a souvenir from the Corn Palace, Amanda!)

The ad was stunning not only in its quality of imagery–which the farm.com clip did NOT have (I idolize Kurt Markus, William Albert Allard and Andy Anderson), but also in how stark & “quiet” it was compared to the noise of the game & the other ads. To hear one lone, memorable voice behind such powerful still photographs stopped a lot of viewers in their tracks, causing them sit quietly and FOCUS. The ad agency took a good idea that was executed “okay” and made it into something powerful & brilliant.

The only complaint I have about the ads is small: all ten photographers were male! I'm a photojournalist (my work appears regularly for magazines like Western Horseman, Cowboys & Indians, People, Fortune, Forbes, etc. etc.) and it would have been nice to see at least one female who shoots rural life & culture in the mix. I'm not saying I belong in the ranks with these greats...but I know I'm not the only female out there documenting this! http:://www.lynndonaldson.com

Mallory Early (not verified)
on Feb 6, 2013

When that commercial came on many Americans stopped to watch the commercial. The commercial was so inspirational to promote agriculture and FFA. There are still so many people today that do not realize that there food does not just come from a super market. Everybody has their argument about Paul Harvey but I believe that if he is also trying to promote agriculture then we should not have a problem with him. Paul Harvey had some really inspiring words to say and America heard them all. Everybody should keep sharing and reposting the video so more people will see it. Help spread the word about agriculture. www.photographicfarmgirl.wordpress.com

on Feb 6, 2013

People need to look at the big picture here instead of nit picking. This is a huge deal for those of us in agriculture. For once we got the attention of those who don't understand what we do to bring food to the table, the sacrifices, the type of people we are. Light has been shed on an under appreciated lifestyle and for a few minutes we are a little more understood and confirmed. My breath was taken away and my eyes filled with tears, because after all the struggle to stay afloat in this industry with everything including the government seeming to be against us, I felt acknoledged and like someone was rooting for us. Thank you dodge, thank you for standing up for the hard working people in agriculture.

Jack Cummings (not verified)
on Feb 6, 2013

Amanda great job. This does point out something else, what a great journalist Paul Harvey was. Most people who call themselves journalist today cannot read me the news without showing how liberal they are. When Paul Harvey read the news that was what he did, the news. This is the first I have seen that he was a friend of HSUS.

V W Ag (not verified)
on Feb 6, 2013

Loved the commercial. Any company who bases a commercial on God knowing it will offend many in this country, but still has the guts to do it, wins my vote anytime anywhere.

Jeanne (not verified)
on Feb 6, 2013

Great commercial, made you want to go wash the poor truck in the driveway and walk through the cows and sheep and thank God that we are allowed to live this life that we do. All of us are avid animal rights supporters. That is why we are up at all hours calving and lambing, out feeding first before we eat, and crying over losses that can't be helped. Thank you Dodge for bringing a little of agriculture into the living rooms of people who think their food is produced in the back rooms of the supermarkets.

whaggard1 (not verified)
on Feb 6, 2013

How could anyone, especially an actual farmer, not love this ad.

Terry Church (not verified)
on Feb 6, 2013

Did anyone see the ratings of the Super Bowl Commericals on MSN? God Made A Farmer was number 2 just behind the number 1 Budweiser Clydesdale. Thanks to Dodge for their Super Bowl commerical. I'm so glad to see that Dodge appreciates the American Farmer and his/her way of life. Thanks for helping to make peope aware. Don't forget to promote National Ag Day and National Ag Week in March 2013. Always remember to give thanks.

jenny (not verified)
on Feb 10, 2013

thanx dodge for ur strength and courage, i will remember this next time i buy a truck

Cecil Bearden (not verified)
on Feb 20, 2013

Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth. I grew up under the tutelage of a group of old timers who had endured the Great Depression and the drought of the 50's. While they were always skeptical of anything new or any good thing that happened to them.. They always would tell me: "NEVER LOOK A GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH" Be glad someone is good enough to spend an enormous amount of money to promote our lifestyle and profession. No matter what their motive was, this was the best free advertising we in agriculture could get.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Apr 6, 2014

TAKE A BOW DODGE!!!!!!!!!!!

Christa (not verified)
on Nov 17, 2014

Along with the best engine choices, the 2015 RAM 1500 offers an Active-Level Four-Corner Air Suspension that has the ability to raise and lower your truck. You can manually select one of five different heights, and your RAM 1500 uses sensors to automatically lower your truck during highway speeds to help reduce drag. http://www.freeholddodge.net/2015-ram-1500-freehold-nj.htm

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A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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