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“So God Made a Farmer”
by Anne Telford

“Even though this will sound like a kiss-ass response, so be it—it’s accurate. We had brave, inspiring clients. Think about it,” Baker explains, “They agreed and helped execute a 2:00 commercial on the Super Bowl without mentioning their brand once until the end. And even then it wasn’t spoken.

“They also suggested we go find those who could deliver the best farming photography to date. We landed some of the most gifted photographers you could imagine and they got on board with an I’m all-in attitude; plus, a bunch of sleepless rock stars at 3008 production, two relentlessly talented producers in Paul Nelson and Deb Grisham, and full support from The Richards Group to basically take the Ram team and disappear for a few weeks to make it all happen.”

©Daniel Beltrá

Bonner says, “We hoped to avoid anything that looked too commercial. We wanted to show the world what it’s like to be a farmer. Their values align with Ram’s in honoring the value and nobility of hard work.”

Agency art buyer Deb Grisham adds, “Timing is always a challenge when it’s Super Bowl work, but we had an inspired opportunity. I received the brief from the team just as the holiday break was about to start. Within a week, we had ten photography teams on board and began coordinating the ‘geography.’ The process was a mix of labor and love. This project was an art producer’s dream.”

As the saying goes, “no guts, no glory.” The results speak for themselves: AdWeek deemed it the number-one spot from the Super Bowl and viewers chose it as the best spot in YouTube’s Ad Blitz contest (held in partnership with AdWeek this year).

©Olaf Veltman

Good Morning America tweeted that “Farmer” was the “Number 1 #SuperBowl Ad on Facebook,” influential auto blog Jalopnik declared the spot “The Best Ad Of The Super Bowl,” and both Esquire and NPR praised the ad for being “risky”—citing length, imagery and its non-hip/non-funny approach.

Voted one of the ten best Super Bowl XLVII commercials on, although they deemed the execution “pours it on with a damn fire hose,” most critics felt the spot honored American farmers and sold the product. It garnered 3½ stars on Ad Age’s media news Super Bowl Ad Review. But damn the critics, the public loved it. Ad Age’s editorial partner Bluefin Labs (Cambridge, Massachusetts-based social-TV analytics company) showed that “Farmer” had 402,000 social media comments within 45 minutes following the commercial’s air time, giving it the number-one spot, with 38 percent of commenters positively labeling it a “retro heart-tugger.” When the spot aired during the American Country Music Awards on April 7, the social media channels blew up all over again.

©Andy Mahr

The Ram Truck brand has declared 2013 “The Year of the Farmer” in an initiative aimed at bringing national attention to the significance of the American farmer; it’s the tagline on the spot on YouTube ( where it continues to garner fans and views—21,751,196 when last checked on May 28th. All this in a time of growing awareness of the importance of knowing where our food comes from, when suburban yards across America are sporting wooden planters full of herbs and tomatoes and vegetables. When farmer’s markets are sprouting up in cities small and large and restaurants are focusing on local farm produce in their menus. ca

Editor’s note: Photographers Mark Gooch and Matthew Turley contributed to “So God Made a Farmer” and had work selected for this year’s Photography Annual. Telford
After fourteen years as the founding managing editor of CA, Anne Telford moved to the position of editor-at-large when she relocated to her hometown, La Jolla, CA. An avid traveler, she expanded CA’s international coverage and developed the magazine’s Fresh section. Anne received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin where she indulged her taste for Tex-Mex food, independent film and the blues. Her first job in journalism was as an assistant editor at Texas Monthly. Anne was a founding board member of the Illustration Conference and is a current board member of Watershed Media, an organization that produces action-oriented, visually dynamic communication projects to influence the transition to a green society. Anne is a published poet and photographer with credits ranging from Émigré, Blur and Step Inside Design magazines, to the Portland Oregonian, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Allworth Press and Chronicle Books, among others.