Take an Acorn When You Find One!

Hoosier Perspectives

Why quibble over the Paul Harvey Super Bowl ad?

Published on: February 11, 2013

There's a local radio personality who plays a 30-seocnd routine every night of two guys critiquing his show. They start out, "It's great," and the other responds "It was wonderful." Then they start picking it apart. By the end of the bit, they conclude "It was awful," and "Yeah, it was horrible." I saw that scenario play out for real after Dodge's Super Bowl commercial featuring the late Paul Harvey's poem, "So God Made a Farmer."

It got a lot of play. It was simply captivating when it ran. As an agriculture person, I couldn't believe agriculture was getting that kind of great, positive publicity literally watched by millions, most of whom knew nothing about agriculture. Dodge capped it off by showing the FFA emblem, and later pledged up to one million dollars to the National FFA for every time someone replayed it on the Web.

Early the next morning Facebook and Twitter were alive with acquaintances saying how great it was, and what a great thing for agriculture and FFA. At least that's what my wife tells me. I pledged not to enter the world of Facebook and Twitter until I have to, and so far I haven't had to. You can only teach an old dog one trick at a time. I'm still mastering writing web pieces like this one. 

More positive response came in. A national breakfast 'talk' show placed it in its top five of best commercials.

Then came the naysayers – within agriculture no less. Supposedly, because I didn't verify this, Paul Harvey joined PETA in his later years. Besides, he wasn't a farmer. And the pictures they chose – did they really show what modern agriculture is like? Some didn't think so.

Heather Hill, Greenfield, Indiana Pork Producers President, notes, though, that the final shot was great. The Dodge truck, and make no mistake, what Dodge cared about was selling trucks, was parked with two modern livestock confinement buildings in the background.

The truth is that Paul Harvey originally read that pome at the National FFA Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1978. Or at least that's what Joe Rust says in his 'post,' on Facebook, according to my wife. Joe is a former Indiana FFA state officer, a through and through farm kid, current Purdue University student body president, a junior in agriculture at Purdue, and quite likely, someday, governor of Indiana! At least that's what someone who heard him speak at the Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry said. The kid is sharp and smooth. If he says Paul Harvey read it then, I believe it.

Truth is I was at that convention as a fledgling FFA advisor. I can't truthfully say I remember the poem, but I do remember Paul Harvey speaking. I always looked up to him for his authoritative voice as a father-figure, and I loved his 'Rest of the Stories,' because they added spice to life.

So what if he wasn't a farmer? So what if he indeed was misguided enough to join PETA in his later years? I never heard him push it on anyone on the air. So what if some of the pictures showed fuzzy chicks and idyllic scenes, or a Case tractor from the 1960's?

It was a tremendous message. Millions watched it, many of whom are 100% removed from agriculture, and millions loved it. Why in the world are people inside agriculture quibbling over whether it should have been done by someone else or in a different way? It may be one of the best positive promotions for agriculture in a very long time.

Has anyone ever heard the old saying 'Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.' If you haven't seen the commercial, view it on the Web. Tell your city cousins to watch it too. Then let's move on before we're defacing a shining moment for agriculture, like the 'jokesters' deface the radio guy's show. At least they do it on purpose!