Monday, February 4, 2013

I Bet You Didn't See That Coming

The ad agency that has been doing the Chrysler Corporation Super Bowl ads the last three years, Wieden + Kennedy, are deserving of more praise than I or anyone else can give them.  They have been able to take an "art form" that has deteriorated into stupid animal tricks, fart jokes and locker room humor and managed to make Americans actually THINK about something serious--for at least a few minutes every year.

Three years ago it was the Eminem "Imported From Detroit" ad that tried to dispel the notion that the Motor City was dead and had been left to rot.  Then it was the Clint Eastwood "Halftime In America" Jeep ad that took the same message to the rest of the country that feared that it too is dead and decaying.  And then this year, the company gave us not one but TWO reasons to actually think about ourselves.

The first was the Jeep ad narrated by Oprah Winfrey welcoming troops home from overseas.  The ad once again reinforces the special bond Jeep has had with the military for decades--and reminds us that there were a lot of people who made huge sacrifices so that we could sit on our couches and stuff our faces while watching a football game.

And it seemed like that was going to be it for "thinking persons" television for the night.  And then Chrysler came back with the Paul Harvey "God Made a Farmer" Ram Truck ad.  As the great-grandson of a farmer, the grandson of a farmer and a husband to a farmer's daughter, I was blown away by the powerful message.  And as a radio broadcaster, it was nice to hear the dulcet tone of Paul Harvey's voice one more time.  (In case you are wondering, Paul delivered that speech to the national FFA convention in Chicago back in 1978.)

The social media reaction was exactly what I expected.  Mid-Westerners--who are still close to the farm and who interact with those men and women every day could not say enough about how proud it made them feel--and what a tribute it was to a "forgotten class" of people in America.  Those from the East and West Coasts responded with snark--cracking jokes about odors, illegal immigrant workers and growing pot.  To them, milk will always come from a carton, vegetables from a produce display and burgers from McDonalds. 

And those farm fields with interesting designs will just be bastions of "God and Guns" in Red Flyover States--while those who do little more than talk for a living will go on believing that they are the ones who make America, "America".  I'm glad I know that will never be the case.

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