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?