A Closer Look at Chrysler’s “God Made a Farmer” Super Bowl Commercial

As we wrote this past Monday, Chrysler scored a major advertising win during the Super Bowl with the commercial above, titled “Farmer.” It’s a simple photo slideshow with Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer” speech playing in the background.

Despite its simplicity, it has become one of the most talked about ads over the past week, and now new details are emerging regarding its creation.

One of the photographers that contributed to the project, Andy Anderson, has written up a blog post with some background info on how everything came together.

The spot was the brainchild of ad guru Jimmy Bonner of The Richard’s Group, which recruited ten talented photographers: Andy Anderson, William Allard, Jim Arndt, Daniel Beltra, Mark Gooch, Andy Mahr, Kurt Markus, David Spielman, Matt Turley and Olaf Veltman.

Four of Andy Anderson's contributions to the advertisement

Four of Andy Anderson’s contributions to the advertisement

The photographers were given simple instructions and the speech by Paul Harvey, and were asked to spend time with farmers and ranchers. They knew that their photographs would be used during a 2-minute Ram commercial during the Super Bowl, but they had freedom to shoot whatever they felt was appropriate.

Anderson writes that he feels blessed to have taken part in the unique photo assignment:

A transcendent project unlike any that I have worked on. 10 photographers capturing on there own terms the life of a farmer and rancher. All of us searching for meaningful images. Not any one photo rising above any others, but collectively voicing a message for folks and a vocation we have all really taken for granted. The last truly archetypical American worker. And who better else to match the images with than Paul Harvey…America’s grandfather.

His blog post also contains the set of photographs he personally submitted to the ad agency.

The advertisement was voted #1 Super Bowl ad this year by AdWeek. The photoblogosphere was also buzzing with the fact that a photo-driven ad was featured so prominently during such a big event.

On the other hand, the ad did draw its fair share of critics, from people complaining about the fact that “God” is mentioned, to the fact that Latino farmers weren’t represented in the photos, to the fact that it may be out of touch with the modern food system, to the fact that all the photogs enlisted were men.

The folks over at Funny Or Die decided to capitalize on the minor controversies by creating a parody commercial lampooning the original ad (warning: some statements may be a bit offensive):

In the end, Chrysler paid over a million dollars for every 10 seconds in the commercial, and its gamble in going with a completely photo driven advertisement seems to have paid off big time for the brand and for the photographers involved.

(via A Photo Editor)

P.S. Coudal notes that the commercial’s concept is far from original. Apparently state agriculture departments and farm bureaus have been creating similar videos using Harvey’s speech for years.

  • Thewirehead

    I didn’t find the commercial all that interesting, and it seemed like the photos were all over retouched and edited differently. It’s a bit distracting and makes me feel disconnected from the message the ad was going for.

  • Swade

    How did 2 minutes of pictures representing farms and farmers disconnect you from the message of the farmer?

  • OSAM

    The ad is visually interesting, but I’ll Dodge didn’t relate the “farmer” idea to the “buy a dodge” idea. They show Dodge vehicles, but they’re certainly not drawing a very clear connection.

  • dancebert

    Ad Week is THE must read source for the business of advertising. They voted it the best ad of the super bowl. Perhaps professional advertisers know what they’re doing?

  • Anthony Burokas

    I’d like to find out more about the movement within the still frames- a-la cinemagraphs. It’s not in all of them, but it certainly does make it more evocative that just a bunch of still photos.

  • Anthony Burokas

    Exactly. In an image spot, you are not going to talk about the Valentines day special at your local dealer, “come on down…” etc. It’s not “buy a Ram truck.”

    You lean against the fencepost, spin a yarn, and include a few RAM trucks in there, especially the final shot. If it grabbed people, they’ll watch to the end and see your truck. That’s far more than can be said for most car ads.

  • Thewirehead

    The message wasn’t about farmers, it was about PICKUPS!

    Seriously though, looking at it from a photographer’s standpoint, I was distracted by the fact I was thinking about the photographer and composition, etc.

  • Thewirehead

    Professional advertisers also made the GoDaddy Kissing ad…

  • Mansgame

    To me I thought the commercial was pandering to Paul Harvy’s Americana Persona and exploiting farmers to sell a crappy truck. The pictures, except for the snow cowboy pictures were extremely over processed which I’ve never cared for. Overall, I’ll buy a Toyota, a real American truck.

  • karmaportrait

    closer look: still missing immigrant laborers

  • etothej

    I loved the parody, really funny :D

  • Lee Harris

    God did this did he? Very Dodgy premis

  • bgrady413

    It’s no longer Dodge, its Ram. They spun off the truck brand to its own entity I am assuming because it is way more profitable than Dodge and if Fiat needs to cut and run they can sell Ram seperate than the garbage Dodge is currently putting out. Same with Viper, it is now SRT, it’s own brand with Viper being the halo car.

  • Ken Jones

    Just about any professional you are in sees this phenomena. I’ve done all kinds of things in my 51 years. I’ll watch a crime drama and pick apart how the police operate. I’ll watch a show depicting a truck driver and scoff at how he or she is depicted. I look at a sign and can tell how experienced the designer was.

    It’s simply the way it is.

  • OllieOh

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here, but maybe it feels disconnected because you’re not the target.

  • OllieOh

    Professional advertisers are also still making you talk about it. That’s the point. Talk value.

  • That Guy

    This is how you know people don’t have real problems in their lives… when you see them complaining about stuff like this. It was a nice break from all the other crap we’re used to seeing in advertising.

  • Chris Conder

    I just hope there are still enough proper farmers to restore my faith! There are in the UK at any rate, though their numbers are dwindling due to meddling by government. God may have made the farmer, but politicians have made the factory farm.

  • Mead Norton

    Reminds me a bit of the FSA project done during the depression that enabled Mary Ellen Mark to create her iconic Migrant Worker Image

  • jsthejus