Commercials weren’t always funny, but they were memorable

Published 7:20 pm Tuesday, February 5, 2013

One of the best things about any Super Bowl broadcast is the commercials. Because it is so expensive to advertise during the football game, companies will try to make the most out of their 30 seconds. Some of the most famous commercials of all time came during the Super Bowl, including Apple’s “1984” ad and Coke’s “Mean Joe Greene” spot.

While there were a few commercials that made me chuckle this year (particularly the Oreo “whisper fight” and Tide “Joe Montana stain”), I was much more impressed by the not-so-funny advertisements. I truly think that they will be the commercials that resonate years from now, when all the other ones have been long forgotten.

I am referring to the Jeep “Whole Again” commercial for the USO, and the Dodge “God Made a Farmer” commercial featuring the voice of the late Paul Harvey. Both commercials were similar in their makeup, featuring a dramatic voiceover juxtaposed with images of people who are often overlooked and underappreciated — our men in the military, and farmers.

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I thought the Jeep commercial was beautiful, and gave me goosebumps at the end, because it touched on so many of those unique qualities that make us American.

There was patriotism (images of U.S. flags), religion (images of churches), family (video of soldiers hugging their wife and kids) and beautiful images of communities coming together to support their troops as they come home again. It seems like the mainstream broadcast media so often either ignores these themes, or ridicules them, and it was wonderful to see them displayed so poignantly to such a wide audience.

However, I think I enjoyed the Paul Harvey/Dodge ad even more. For those who didn’t get a chance to see it, the ad includes excerpts of a speech that conservative radio newsman Harvey gave to the Future Farmers of America national convention in 1978. My favorite line was, “God said, ‘I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the field, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board.’ So God made a farmer.”

I have to admit that I am a little biased about several aspects of this commercial. My dad listened to Paul Harvey on the car radio nearly every day as he drove us to school, so I am very familiar with his folksy drawl and clever method of inflection.
My dad also comes from a farming family, and told me many times of some of the back-breaking chores that he had to do every day before school and before sunrise. I believe that farmers — like the military — are often not given enough credit, and I enjoyed this beautiful ode to the people who make it possible for us to eat each day.

I realize that these commercials aren’t perfect. Some might question if they were too hokey, or whether Paul Harvey’s idealistic version of a farmer still exists in today’s world of mega-farms, subsidies, and federal programs.

To those people, I say, “lighten up.” I appreciate that these two companies took advantage of their airtime to give some kudos to two groups of Americans that make our country great…

Whether anyone is watching or not.