On February 3rd, 2013, a commercial simply named ‘Farmer’ was aired during the 47th Superbowl. It was advertising the Chrysler Company and their new models of Dodge Ram Trucks, along with the FFA (Future Farmers of America). This commercial did a fantastic at appealing to the viewer by using pathos, ethos, and other rhetorical devices. It is made clear that the intended audience was the agricultural working class Americans and others who play a role in the American farm life. The main purpose of this commercial was to support the working-class Americans and to inform them that Dodge Ram trucks are the right truck for them to use throughout their daily lives.
The ad was capable of appealing a wide range of people, old, young, rich and poor. Farmers were the most obvious target; however, it could also appeal towards people who work in construction, ranching, and other jobs where hauling equipment is a necessity. Hard-working, rural Americans with traditional values (with references to hard-work, faith, and family) were likely the most touched by this commercial. With the commercial being narrated by Paul Harvey, it could also resonate with older folks who used to listen to Harvey on the radio, building an emotional bond between the audience and the product. The entitlement that Harvey gives farmers helps in persuading them buying a Dodge Ram.
The colors used in the commercial vary from black and white to more vivid colors depending on what the commercial is trying to state about the farmers. The colorless and moody imagery mixed with the absence of background music creates an almost melancholic tone. When talking about the long hours of work, the colors are black and white. These photos are also used to cancel out any distractions, and Dodge doesn’t want anything to take away from the impact of the message they are trying to relay. Therefore, it is clear that these photos were chosen for the intensity of their subject. When the commercial is trying to empower the farmers, more vivid colors such as red yellow and green are used. The ad is not flashy nor does it contain special effects, like seen in other Superbowl commercials. In most Super Bowl commercials, the tempo is usually upbeat and humorous. However, the downtempo of this ad appeals more to the audience’s serious side. Comprised of establishing photos of American farm life and the symbols associated with it, each photograph gives the viewer an insight or what it is like to experience the struggles of being a farmer.
The photographs are accompanied by Paul Harvey’s well-known, 1978 speech about dairy farmers. The first thing Harvey says is ‘On the eighth day by extending the seventh day of creation, the farmer is set apart from everybody else. The farmer is considered a creation all of its own. There is no one else like a farmer, and he is beyond a mere man.’ Throughout the commercial, there is a very long list of qualities of farmer processes. These qualities may be describing a farmer, but they’re also meant to describe the Ram and the Dodge brand as a whole. Dodge implies that they are aware of the need for dependability from farmers because we, in turn, are dependent on them. Dodge presents a truck that is as strong and hard-working as a farmer for those times when a hard-working vehicle is needed. Dodge is also suggesting that their vehicle can be gentle enough for precious cargo, whether that be a newborn animal or a family member.
By teaming up with the National FFA Organization, an organization founded by farmers to educate future farmers of America, Dodge builds credibility with their intended audience. Dodge goes on to build even more credibility with the audience because the entirety of the commercial is a narration of Paul Harvey’s famous speech, ‘So God Made A Farmer’, which was read to the Future Farmers of America convention in 1978. By Dodge using such an iconic figure as Paul Harvey, a true American born and raised in the rural Midwest, it gives the audience a heroic figure to look up to and to associate them with their product. Whenever someone thinks of the FFA or Paul Harvey, they think of the Dodge Ram pickup truck.
Dodge attempts to reach its audience’s empathetic side, particularly Christians. With the phrase ‘So God made a farmer’ being repeated throughout the commercial, it gives credence to spiritual followers that the farmer is important because Christians never question God’s judgment. Even if the viewer does not believe in God, it goes without saying that it takes a strong, dedicated, and hardworking individual to be a farmer. Dodge is drawing on that emotion. They want us to trust their vehicle with the same level of trust that we put into the farmer – and for those of us who are religious, God. We also have faith in our farmers, that they will provide for us. Dodge wants us to have faith in its truck’s performance just as we, the consumer, have faith that the farmer will provide for us.
Dodge knows its audience very well. They know exactly who they are selling to and use multiple references that their audience will be able to relate to, building a bond with their product. Dodge has shown that their vehicles can meet all of our needs; they are strong, reliable, and will stand by us through anything. God may have made a farmer, but Dodge helped God’s farmer succeed by designing the Ram. If Dodge is good enough for a farmer, imagine how great it would be for everyone else.