I have to admit up front: I’m not a big football fan; never have been. At one point in high school, I participated in “hell week” for about 15 minutes before I decided that much sweat without emotional involvement was not for me.
But last Monday morning, I was scrolling through my email to see several messages talking about the Baltimore Ravens’ win, but referencing “that farmer ad” that aired during the Super Bowl. I clicked on the link and watched a two-minute love letter to farmers and ranchers from Ram trucks. The ad wasn’t a comic approach to product promotion, it was legendary radio personality Paul Harvey reciting his original essay entitled “So God Created a Farmer,” while iconic farm and ranch images were shown.
I later learned that in addition to the commercial, Ram trucks teamed up with several farm equipment manufacturers to declare 2013 “The Year of the Farmer.” And if that wasn’t enough, every time the Super Bowl ad is viewed, downloaded or shared, Ram trucks donates money to the National FFA Foundation and National FFA Organization to support the FFA Foundation’s “Feeding the World – Starting at Home” program.
The ad obviously struck a chord with Americans. USA Today’s “Ad Meter” rated the Ram trucks spot the third most popular Super Bowl commercial. As of late yesterday, the site on which it runs had over six million hits. Watch the ad here: http://www.ramtrucks.com/en/keepplowing/.
The Farm Animal Welfare Coalition (FAWC), an ad hoc DC coalition I coordinate made up of national ag groups working to ensure any legislation/regulation affecting farm animals balances animal wellbeing against farmer wellbeing, and the Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA), an ag-supported public education group, seized the opportunity to galvanize U.S. ag. We drafted a letter and sent it out into the universe. What evolved was a letter of sincere thanks to Chrysler Group LLC Chair and CEO Sergio Marchionne and his Ram trucks team – signed by over 255 national, regional and state ag groups representing all aspects of American agriculture. You can read the letter and see who signed by going to www.animalagalliance.org.
I’m not naïve enough to believe Chrysler/Ram trucks created the ad out of the goodness of its corporate heart. No, the ad is designed to develop brand allegiance and sell trucks. Ag folks buy a lot of trucks, not just Ram. That’s good capitalism at work. Over 164 million people watched the Super Bowl in whole or part; if a 30-second spot on the broadcast cost a reported $3.7 million, I’m guessing Ram trucks paid, discounts and such, somewhere north of $11-12 million to run that ad.
The most cynical construction placed on Ram trucks’ motives can’t erase American agriculture’s heartfelt, positive reaction to the message. It’s rare anyone – even companies making billions annually off the work of farmers and ranchers – says anything unsolicited about the importance of farming and ranching. It’s even rarer when they do and that message is as positive and as critically important to the masses as the Ram trucks ad is, focusing in a very dramatic way on the vital contribution of farm and ranch families to every American’s quality of life.
The show of gratitude from those 255-plus organizations represents the individual appreciation of over two million Americans at least, compounded as word of the ad circulates. This is what U.S. agriculture will do for any individual, group and company willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with food producers to ensure they’re appreciated and valued in the face of uninformed, political rhetoric aimed at consumers, propaganda designed to scare the buyers and bankrupt the producers.
So, 164 million Super Bowl viewers, two million grateful aggies and growing, six million hits on the YouTube.com site and growing, and judging by the activity on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, et al, the universe of grateful folks is expanding darn near exponentially.
Ram trucks made one heck of an investment. Thank you.