Commentary: Why ag got excited about the Ram Truck ad

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If you’re involved with agriculture, you’ve probably seen the Ram Trucks ad that ran during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, Feb. 3. The ad was titled “So God made a farmer” and featured legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey’s speech at the 1978 National FFA Convention along with a variety of images of rural America and the farming life and ended with the image of Ram Trucks.

Social media exploded with messages from those in agriculture supporting the ad and its message. The ad ranked as the third highest most favored ad from the Super Bowl, according to the USA Today’s ad meter results.

On Monday, Case IH announced its partnership with Ram Trucks to make donations to the FFA for the number of visits the ad receives online.

Agriculture and the agriculture media have praised the ad generously. But the enthusiasm goes beyond the fact that the ad was a fist-pump to agriculture.

Despite the fact that some have quibbled with particular images that were shown, which offered the stereotypical image of farmers that the industry and the agriculture media have been fighting against for many years, the ad was able to convey multiple positive messages about agriculture to a mainstream audience. There isn’t more mainstream than the Super Bowl and it’s built-in billions of people who watch.

In Paul Harvey’s unique style, he was able to convey the character needed in a farmer to do all the jobs needed to run a farm or ranch. The farmer must be willing to work long hours, be hard and strong and yet soft enough to take care of his family and meet those commitments. In the end, he has to be a good example to his family so that hopefully the next generation wants to do what farmers have been doing for centuries: Working hard to feed the world.

The ad was a great way to convey to urban America—a large percentage of those watching the Super Bowl—the depth of the commitment farmers make to working hard and producing food. The ad also stirred a sense of nostalgia for farming in America.

But of all the emotions the ad raised, the most important, was pride. Farmers rarely pat themselves on the back. This has been a public image problem for the industry because if the industry doesn’t celebrate its virtues, the public at large won’t know. This ad cleverly demonstrated the character, humbleness and pride of being a farmer.

This is an ad the majority of the ag industry can get behind and celebrate as a public image. What better time in agriculture’s history to reach such a large audience? The timing of it—during the Super Bowl, which is one of the biggest non-holiday food holidays in America—was brilliant. No one seemed to be expecting this ad. After the excitement of the power outage of the Superdome, Beyonce’s dramatic half time show and the 49s rallying to come from behind, the fourth quarter ad was as unexpected as it was touching. The two-minute ad captured America’s attention and its heart. For agriculture and rural America, it defined a way of life and affirmed the pride of a job that often goes unrecognized in our society.

As the world continues to struggle for producing enough food to meet the growing demand of the rising middle class globally, the ad was timed perfectly to remind everyone of the need for farmers.

For at least one moment in time, the ad reached a global audience and reminded the world that we need farmers, and that is something all of agriculture can be proud to support.

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MA  |  February, 06, 2013 at 02:09 PM

I agree wholeheartedly with your endorsement of Paul Harvey's "God Made A Farmer" done for Super Bowl XLVll. It was the best part of the game... Two things here you don 't get...The images presented of farmers were perfect. Working people with weathered faces and strong hands, perhaps not nattily dressed, but perfect for effect. Perhaps some of our farmers don't get dirty anymore, because someone else does that work for them. I am not sure that is what enhances the public's opinion of us... The second is that you apparently, like some others, take those not in the rising middle for granted....they have to eat too...

kansas  |  February, 16, 2013 at 05:13 PM

Henry - Pseudo-marxist farmer from MA, and back-handing endorser! What a wonderfully cliche' set of twin points from you and your fellows from the great food consuming state of MA, home of that great Ag School, Harvard. How's the proletariat getting along there now that Billionaire Food Exploiter, Mr. John Heinz has left to run our foreign policy and multi-millionaire "educator" Fauxcahontas is leading the revolution?

Ohio  |  February, 06, 2013 at 04:25 PM

I'm involved in agriculture and certainly support any promotion of our industry. However, it seems to me that we fail to recognize that a great majority of the population does not care about agriculture. They dont wish to understand it, they simply wish to continue to have food on their plates. Just as I could care less about learning about how my smart phone works, how many people are employed to produce them, and certainly dont support government support of the smartphone industry. I just want to be able to buy the newest, best, least expensive smartphone each time I upgrade. Even if paul Harvey recordings tell me how great the smartphone manufacturers are. Just sayin.

SD  |  February, 06, 2013 at 06:31 PM

I liked the ad. Yes, it portrayed ag/farmers/farming as it was some time ago, to a degree, but that isn't necessarily bad. It was quite a shock, as we ag producers are almost NEVER portrayed positively in modern media! My family are among those who do "get dirty" and work very long, hard hours. AND we own the ranch, AND we, or neighbors with whom we 'trade work' do all the work, with rare exceptions when we need to hire someone who has special equipment and/or skills for a job our crew of five family members ages 23 to 76 can't handle or don't have time for. We use the best of the 'old ways', such as handling our cattle horseback, trailing them several miles at different times of year, and the best of the new, such as a good relationship with excellent Veterinarians, BQA practices, and learning and using modern animal husbandry, hay production. Being active members of a top notch cattlemens organizations (SD Cattlemen and NCBA) for over 50 years has been very helpful for us to learn the best of the new to enhance what the best of the old time cowboys taught us about managing catte and the native range pastures our cattle live on and we make our living on.

Minnesota  |  February, 07, 2013 at 06:01 PM

Dale & I thought this was a great ad to agriculture for the long hours and hard work that we put in to plant the crops and harvest the crops, plus take care of the dairy.

Meta,M.  |  February, 15, 2013 at 11:01 PM

For far to long farmers have been portrayed as just country "Hicks" or "Hayseeds" if you will,with very little in the way of education. If that were the case how could this country be FED so WELL. May God bless the American Farmer.

David Lee Schneider    
oconto, wi  |  December, 30, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Without agriculture, there is no America.

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