It Takes a Myth to Sell a Myth

[imgbelt img=rancher1.png]And on Super Bowl Sunday, Dodge needed to sell some pickup trucks. So Dodge made a farmer myth, with a little help from radio commentator Paul Harvey. Alan Guebert looks at the reality of both 21st century farming and the broadcaster.


Agriculture was atwitter Monday, Feb. 4, over a two-minute pick-up truck advertisement during the previous day’s Super Bowl. The ad featured evocative photographs of farm and ranch folk to a voice-over of one-time news commentator Paul Harvey’s oft-quoted 1978 hanky-soaking speech, “So, God made a farmer.”

The two combined to put American farmers and ranchers in an almost celestial place in Super Bowl ad-dom: golden light, heaven-on-earth scenes, common folk struggling through this woe-filled vale of tears.

[imgcontainer left][img:rancher1.png]Everyone is talking about the ad, which included Harvey’s 1978 FFA speech over photos like this one.

Standing out in the 2013 Super Bowl ad game wasn’t too difficult given the silly, even insipid, competition. I mean, prancing male underwear models and office drones whose reggae-tinged happiness came from riding in a German-made car?

Yo, mon.

Dodge, which stitched the photos of America’s purple-mountain majesty with Harvey’s purple prose to sell pick-up trucks larger than the state of Rhode Island, hit all the right chords in the right key.

For example, a black-and-white silhouette of a bushy-mustached, slouch-hatted rancher filled the screen as Harvey intoned “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.’”

If that didn’t get lump-making going in your throat, the final photo in the sequence should have. It showed a rancher on bended—probably aching—knees in church, head down and hat in hand.

Oh, my.

Yes, it was a heaping helping of raw American myth, but myth sells.

Of course, you may not need a $55,000, diesel-clattering, four-door, moon-roofed, stump-pulling dually pick-up but how will you ever, as Harvey suggests, “shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout” or “shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire” without one?

Go for it, man.

By pure coincidence, one of the nation’s largest farm magazines, Progressive Farmer, published an online story that same day that rounded out the Super Bowl picture of where American agriculture actually is in 2013.

yes, he has a one –dives into his bald-faced act of deceptive self-promotion to boost radio ratings in the bad old days of Cold War red baiting.

But, hey, who wants to be bothered by cold facts when myth is what it’s all about.

And pick-ups and persimmon sprouts and re-capped horse hooves.
Giddyup, partner.