Faith. Family. Community. Not words you'd typically associate with Super Bowl commercials. But U.S. automaker Chrysler used them to offer this year's most compelling, inspiring and memorable ads.
Unlike most advertisers who released their ads days before, Chrysler kept its commercials under wraps until the big game. The first to air was a Jeep ad celebrating the return home of the American soldier, narrated by Oprah Winfrey. The second ad for Dodge Ram trucks was dedicated to the American farmer.
Most ad watchers expected the car maker to follow their heartfelt previous two Super Bowl spots, which featured rapper Eminem in 2011 and actor Clint Eastwood in 2012, with those from a similar vein, and the well-received Jeep spot did just that.
In the ad, Winfrey says, "We wait. We hope. We pray. Until you're home again." Soldiers and their families know well the pride and emotion that comes with returning from the field of battle to loved ones.
Deseret News readers may remember five-year-old Baylee Page, who said in a surprise January 2012 video, "That’s my only birthday present I wanted is you," as she hugged her soldier dad, newly returned from overseas.
"You've been needed. You've been cried for. Prayed for. You've been the reason we push on. Because when you're home, we're more than just a family," the ad continues, echoing what Sgt. Travis Taylor recently told the Deseret News on returning home from Afghanistan in January 2013.
"I was sitting on the plane nervous, wondering what it would be like coming out here," Taylor said. "But it's been awesome. It's just a huge relief . . . Being away from the family and the ones I love for the last 12 months has been hard, but today has made it more than worth it.
Taking its cue from a 1978 Paul Harvey speech at a Future Farmers of America convention, Chrysler's second ad for their Ram truck line transcended the m'ad'ness of the Super Bowl ad parade.
The full text of the advertisement, as spoken by Harvey, began, "And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, 'I need a caretaker.' So God made a farmer."
Harvey and the advertisement continued, saying, "God said, 'I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.' So God made a farmer.
"'I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife's done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure to come back real soon — and mean it.' So God made a farmer.
"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.' I need somebody who can shape an ax handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of hay wire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain'n from 'tractor back,' put in another seventy-two hours.' So God made a farmer.
"God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor's place. So God made a farmer.
"God said, 'I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week's work with a five-mile drive to church.
"Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life 'doing what dad does.' So God made a farmer."
In its annual survey of consumers and ad executives, the Wall Street Journal reported this Chrysler ad as one of the most-liked of the big game.
"I got goose bumps; I was on the verge of crying," Tom Geary, a 60-year-old mechanical contractor from Aston, PA told The Wall Street Journal.
Social Media exploded as well with numerous reactions like these:
"That Dodge Ram ad made me yearn for my little cousin, who wants to be a farmer just like my uncle. True catharsis. Three in a row, Chrysler." — Erica (@elbush) February 4, 2013
"Loved that Dodge farmer ad. Chrysler is hitting the right note with their ads tonight. First Jeep, now Dodge. Well done." — Bennett Richardson (@bennettrich) February 4, 20135 comments on this story
"Paul Harvey was one of a kind. Brilliant use of "So God made a farmer." Great tribute to the American farmer. Wonderful ad." — Gary Sinise (@GarySinise) February 4, 2013
Chrysler borrowed the idea of a series of beautifully shot still photos over the Harvey voiceover from a YouTube video posted by Farms.com in 2011, which had more than 1 million views before the Dodge Ram ad ran.
Chrysler plans to donate as much as $1 million dollars to the Future Farmers of America based on views and shares of the "So God Made a Farmer" ad.