Dallas-Based Richards Group Under Fire For Super Bowl Ad.
The combined populations of Baltimore and the San Fransisco Bay Area are roughly 1.4 million. And yet, this past Sunday evening, over 108.7 million people tuned in to watch the city's respective football teams — the Ravens and the 49ers — compete in the year's most over-hyped annual sporting event.
Sure, Beyonce's half-time performance can too be credited for a huge chunk of those extra sets of eyeballs glued to CBS' coverage of the event, but there were millions of other folks watching, too — including my grandma, who wondered aloud why the NFL would hire an unknown dancer as this year's half-time entertainer before blaming that set's excessive lightshow on the lengthy third-quarter blackout.
Still, the appeal for the non-football- or Beyonce-adoring set — besides an excuse to get shitfaced on light beer and to eat 14 different types of appetizers, nine of which are covered in queso — is obvious. It's the commercials.
Seriously: My mother yells as loud that the commercials are on as my brother does when his team scores a touchdown.
Nonetheless, in what was a noticeably down year as far as entertaining Super Bowl spots go, social media outlets were clear in deciding that the Dodge Ram “Farmers” spot was the runaway standout commercial of the night.
The spot, as you may know, was created by the Dallas-based Richards Group, the advertising agency behind such other revered and well-known spots as Chick-fil-A's “Eat Mor Chikin” campaign, Motel 6's Tom Bodett-voiced spots and Corona's tropical beach-themed TV ads.
Their big, two-minute commercial this time around made use of the “God Made a Farmer” essay Paul Harvey delivered to the Future Farmers of America in 1978. As that speech played, the commercial also showcased in the foreground still images documenting the life of the American farmer, as taken by such renowned photographers as National Geographic icon William Albert Allard and documentary photographer Kurt Markus.
Shortly after the spot ran, former Texas Rangers pitcher Brandon McCarthy jokingly tweeted, “That convinced me, I'm buying a farmer first thing tomorrow.” He wasn't the only one moved in some way or another by the commercial, either. It seemed everyone had an opinion on it.
By late Sunday night, however, Slate and some other publications noted something fishy about the commercial. Specifically, they called its striking resemblance to a 2011 Youtube video by noted agricultural website Farms.com.
Apparently, though, according to an official press release from Ram's parent company Chrysler, this was by design. Per the release, Ram was partnering with Case IH farm products, and Farms.com to “raise awareness and generate funds for FFA hunger relief efforts in local communities across America.”
For every view, download or share of Ram's ad, Chrysler is making donations to the National FFA. So, while Harvey, who died back in 2009, would probably be rolling over in his grave knowing his speech extolling the value of farmers was being used to shill trucks, we're guessing he could at least appreciate the gesture to help out the FFA.
What's being lost in all this copycat-gate nonsense, however, is the bigger issue at hand. As many in the Twitterverse have noted, the vision of American farm life portrayed in Ram's spot featured almost no Hispanics, despite the fact that, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly half of all hired farm workers in the country were Hispanic as of 2010.
Next time, Richards Group. Next time.