Super Bowl Ads Celebrate U.S. Farmers

Northstar Notes

Those who raise our food, fiber and fuel get much deserved recognition last Sunday.

Published on: February 8, 2013

I knew that Budweiser was going to air a top-notch ad during the Super Bowl that captured the essence of someone who cares deeply for animals.

Days before the big game, I saw the newest Bud video online as friends shared it via social media. Compressed within 30 seconds, the film showed highlights of a breeder raising a colt until it matured into a beautiful Clydesdale. The breeder then had to say good-bye when the horse relocated to another barn for additional training. This horse showed promise: It was being groomed to be part of the famous team that pulls the beer company's wagon in future parades.

The commercial tugs at your heartstrings. You feel that deep connection and care between man and animal. And in the commercial, that horse remembered his caretaker and acknowledged it with affection.

That commercial made me tear up the first time I saw it and it did again when I watched it during the football game.

The pleasant advertising surprise for me, however, happened when the Dodge Ram truck commercial started. A recording of long-time radio announcer Paul Harvey's voice started reciting his "So God Made A Farmer" speech that he gave at the 1978 National FFA Convention.

Here is the full text that I found online:

"And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, 'I need a caretaker.'

So God made a farmer.

God said, 'I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.'

So God made a farmer.

'I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife's done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon -- and mean it.'

So God made a farmer.

God said, 'I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, 'Maybe next year.' I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain'n from 'tractor back,' put in another seventy-two hours.'

So God made a farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor's place.

So God made a farmer.

God said, 'I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week's work with a five-mile drive to church.

'Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life 'doing what dad does.'

So God made a farmer.

The Dodge Ram ad used an edited version of this, omitting a few graphs, such as the wives at lunchtime and delivering his grandchild. In a press release, Ram Truck noted that it commissioned 10 photographers to document American farm life for the video.

"In this latest extension of the brand's Guts, Glory, Ram campaign, the video uses slices of farming life to remind us of our shared identity and character, the greatness born out of perseverance and determination and the rewards that come from hard work," the company press release said.

I recall hearing Harvey's tribute decades ago. When I was working for a national dairy magazine in the early 1990s, I obtained a special VHS recording provided by Germania Dairy Automation, a milking equipment manufacturer bought out by DeLaval in 1997. Germania has its own version of "So God Made A Farmer" that focused on dairy farmers. A Michigan dairy farmer, Bruce Brenner, made it, long with 60-some other videos for Germania over two decades. Brenner took shots of his family over the years, and when he had time, he would sit and edit video.

Germania's version of Harvey's poem was handed out to customers for years and today, Reisgies still gives copies—in DVD format—to his clients.

"I was just as surprised as you to see [the ad on TV]," Reisgies told me the other day via email. He wondered if a farmer, dealer or company rep might have remembered the Germania version and offered it to the Dodge Ram promotion team.

Who knows? I thought that at first. Or, maybe the folks involved in Ram promotion heard about Harvey's poem through another connection—a farm family video, a farm group's promo film.

It doesn't really matter.

The fact that Harvey's tribute made it to prime time television during the most watched show of the year is good enough for me.

Two strong ads for agriculture—that was a big night for all of us.