I’ll preface this post by saying the Dodge Ram “Farmer” ad, that ran during last night’s Super Bowl, was pitch perfect in many ways. It invoked God, Americana and nostalgia, mixed them well, and then they dropped their product into the mix. Voila. Viewers connect with it, having no real idea about the product. Brand awareness, and eliciting positive thoughts and emotions and then linking a product to it. It’s a formula that many politicians use with their own campaigns.
God + Americana + “(blank) values” + (insert product/service/politician) = Win
And, that stock formula is what frustrated me.
I didn’t like the commercial. I thought it was overdone. My wife found it “cheesy”. While the commercial was still playing, because it was two minutes long, I tweeted about its use of a lens flare. I found that funny amidst its use of photography stills.
I thought the commercial was trying to follow in the footsteps of the Clint Eastwood commercial from last Super Bowl. Use a conservative voice and working class imagery, invoke a generic work ethic and values, and then include your product.
What frustrated me more? The response from people about it. Sure, people are going to like things that you don’t like, but it was the over-the-top praise for it that boggled my mind. More so, seeing a number of Christians on social media refer to it in reverent tones was a tad ridiculous.*
*A reminder that the people behind this commercial knew what they were doing. It’s not like this ad was going to run during the Grammys.
Of course, for many Christians it’s nothing more than an appreciation of what the commercial represents. I get that. And again, it’s why the advertisers produced the commercial they did. Some of the comments I read and heard, praising the commercial, brought to mind something negative though.
I don’t like when God is invoked to sell me on something. The use of the particular Paul Harvey address, “So God Made a Farmer”, to sell a truck while inferring the Almighty’s blessing upon it reminded me of this. Politicians always come to mind when it comes to invoking God as a means to an end. I’ve tired of them, usually Republicans, trying to push how they are “faith based” in their values.* It’s annoying, and yet it works. During elections, I hear from Christians how they like a particular candidate because they are “faith based”. They don’t know anything about the candidate beyond that and a few campaign slogans/soundbites.
*In this last Congress, not one of the members said they were religiously unaffiliated. Over 16% of American adults consider themselves unaffiliated. 86% of the Congress was either Protestant or Catholic. And yet, public opinion polls ranked it as one of the worst Congresses ever. So much for “faith based” politicians.
Politicians stick to stock answers and soundbites because they work most of the time. They can keep going back to Congress for multiple terms, accomplish nothing, blame others for their lack of record, and regurgitate God, family values, and other buzz words that connect with their voting base.
Many Christians eat it up and keep this person in power who does not have God’s interests in mind.
Okay, so the commercial…
Throughout the day, I tired of all the love the ad was getting. As I started sharing with people how I didn’t like it, online and offline, I was surprised by some of the negative responses I received. This just had me wanting to troll hard. And I did.
So, did anyone become a farmer today, or go buy a RAM truck, because of a commercial? No? Didn’t think so.
— Robert Murphy (@RamHatter) February 4, 2013
Having worked on ad campaigns before, I know better than this. That wasn’t the point of the tweet, though. Just injecting something else into the discussion/narrative, while venting a bit.
Immediately, I heard from people about it. Some were gracious, some were not. Some offered up some nice backhanded remarks, some joked with me, and others inferred I wouldn’t get it since I had no connection to farming (a wrong assumption). I had a good exchange with Rainbow Rowell about it over Twitter. Wish we could have talked more about it over coffee instead of limiting ourselves to 140 characters.
I’m surprised by what some people will not be tolerant about in life. Not liking a commercial was one thing I did not expect on the list.
In the end, I realized it wasn’t the commercial that bothered me. If anything, my appreciation for what the advertisers pulled off with the ad has grown. It was the thinking behind the ad. It was the thinking of how the viewer will respond to it, and how they nailed the response for a number of people. It was the nailing of that response, and what that reflects to me, is what bothered me with the ad.
On to more important things now…*
*Did you see that Fast 6 commercial?! That was off the hook!!!**
By the way, Paul Harvey drove a Cadillac. Good DAY!