Anatomy Of A Winning Ad – “So God Made A Farmer…”

These words summarized what was arguably the best commercial of the 47th Super Bowl between the Ravens and 49ers. I was not surprised that this Dodge Ram Truck commercial rose to the top of the pack, since I have been a long-time fan of the man whose touching words graced the 2 minute ad – Paul Harvey. The most intriguing aspect of this ad was that it was as low-tech as it gets. No fancy computer graphics. No matinee idols. No pop culture icons. No questionable language. No massive creative ad budget. It was merely the legendary voice of Paul Harvey, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 90, reciting a 35 year old text… and a series of touching photographs. Let’s take a look at the elements of this great ad and understand why it proved to be so appealing to so many – even lifelong inhabitants of big cities whose only experience with farms has been watching them on TV.

Photo From Dodge Ram Commercial
Image Credit – Chrysler Dodge

The Power To Move People – The Messenger

Based on my recent article regarding Looklet’s LookCreator software replacing photographers and models in the clothing catalog arena, some of you may have thought that I was ceding the world of photography to high end computer graphics. Nothing could be further from the truth. I still believe that a photograph can have profound impacts and change people’s minds and hearts, and in some cases, their wallets as well.

I admit that I got a bit misty-eyed during this Dodge commercial. The first reason involved hearing Paul Harvey’s voice again. I don’t hear it as much since he passed away, but in my youth, I listened to him extensively. For those of you that are not familiar with his work, I would strongly urge you to seek out and listen to some of his radio programs on the internet. Paul Harvey was an amazing man. He had a kind and reassuring confidence, an unforgettable voice, and a way of telling stories that few, if any, could rival.

In my college years, I had a part time job delivering the Sunday newspapers to many of the local Mom & Pop stores in the far reaches of Northeastern Pennsylvania. At 3:30 in the morning, apart from a few deer, raccoons, and the occasional spillover from the Saturday night bar crowd, I was alone on many of the back country roads of the region. Along the way, I listened to Paul Harvey’s inspirational tales, wisdom, and folksy humor on various radio stations and on my cassette player. I was captivated no only with his stories, but the masterful way in which he told them. Sadly, far too few people know of Paul Harvey and his amazing work.

Paul Harvey

Paul Harvey had unique ability to artfully and tastefully intertwine fascinating stories and advertising pitches in ways that most modern day media companies would die for. And unlike many modern day celebrities hawking products, if Paul Harvey advertised something – you believed him. I would find myself listening to Harvey’s description of the gripping challenges facing America’s Founding Fathers during the Revolutionary War, but soon was asking myself, “Do I really have enough life insurance?” And I wasn’t even old enough to seriously consider such issues!

Gripping Images That Touch One’s Soul – The Photographs

What made this Dodge Ram Truck commercial so fascinating was its simplicity. The imagery was a series beautiful and stirring photographs carefully selected to match the narrative of Paul Harvey’s “So God Made A Farmer” soliloquy. I have not seen such a well-matched combination of a story and some simple photos to make an impression on an audience since I first watched Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” documentary. If you have not seen Burn’s mini-series, I urge you to get a copy or find out when it is playing on your local Public Broadcasting Station. It will give you a wonderful lesson in how to capture people’s imaginations with little more than some old photos, a bit of panning technique, a compelling narrative, and some simple music.

The Richards Group, of Dallas, Texas, was the creative agency behind the ad. They enlisted 10 photographers, including the well-respected William Albert Allard and a popular documentary photographer named Kurt Markus. These photos, along with Paul Harvey’s moving commentary, touched our imaginations and our hearts, and stood out among the others – no small accomplishment considering that Super Bowl ads attract more money, creative energies, and competition by far than any other event. From an advertising perspective, it simply doesn’t get any better.

Inspiration For The Future – We Are All Storytellers

Everyone in the photography field should take note of this commercial and find a bit of inspiration in it. In an age where we are inundated with high tech special effects, reality TV shows and their various outrageous characters seeking their 15 minutes in the spotlight, and advertising that often seeks to shock rather than convince us, this commercial was refreshing and a stark departure from the norm. It should lead all of us to rethink our photography exploits and, toward the same end, continually examine how we strive to have our photographs tell the stories we wish to share.

Paul Harvey’s Original Text In Full

And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer.
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 and 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 haywire, 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.

Your Thoughts?
What did you think of the commercial and what does it say about how photography can be used to effectively convey a message and stir people’s emotions?


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Avatar of Bob Vishneski About Bob Vishneski

Bob Vishneski works in the media software industry and is an avid photographer. He has held management and technical positions during his career in such areas as computer manufacturing, imaging software and document management systems, enterprise systems development, and consulting. Bob rediscovered his love for photography in 2007, after picking up a Pentax K10D and realized that his background in the computer industry could prove useful in the age of digital photography. When he is not focusing on the challenges of the software development industry, he spends time traveling with his wife, Tanya, and family, golfing, and honing his photography and Photoshop skills. He is a member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers. Bob and his family reside in the Pittsburgh area. His work can be found at 500px.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Kevin Shea

    Dear Bob,

    My wife and I went completly silent in an instant and then throughout the wonderful story and photographs. Only after, actually tonight, seeing the ad for the second time, did I take a small step back and see the parts that made the complete experience.

    I noted that there was more than subtle panning. Notice the moving refraction of the sun as well as clouds taking their own path. Mr. Harvey was a man of his times. He limited his story to a son, but a young girl was placed square in the center of the spoken word, “farmer”. Certain pictures were lingered over without a hint of haste. The role and wisdom of the editor was paramout in this efort.

    Did you see the luminance of the HDR photos? Stunning. A simple photographic story, well told with emotion just under the surface. A credit to all involved.

    KBS

    • Kevin,
      I did notice the HDR effects on some of the photos. Very fitting and expertly done.
      Bob

  2. Bob … thank you … I didn’t watch the Super Bowl, and saw only a tiny snippet of this advertisement on the news … so this was my first real view. I appreciate that you included the behind scenes info about the photographers. Each and every one of these images went right to the heart … as did Paul Harvey’s beautiful commentary. A moving combination of artists and talents … each one worthy of our attention and admiration. Inspiring. Thank you again …

    • Lois,
      Glad you enjoyed the commercial. It certainly captured my eyes and reminded me that a good message with simple, compelling images can rise to the top, despite the big ad budgets and gimmickry of the competition.
      Bob

  3. I did not watch the Superbowl, but did take the time to watch two videos this morning… the first was this commercial and then the Bud commercial about the Clydesdale and the man. I was thoroughly drenched with a good round of tears. Just like you, it was moving just to hear his voice. Then to have pictures that more than capture the essence of a forgotten profession… WOW! Thanks for the article. I enjoyed reading it.

    • Tina,
      Even though I could figure out where the Bud commercial was heading, I too found it very touching. Glad you liked the story. Thanks for commenting.
      Bob

  4. Bob – I agree, excellent commercial. I too, like Kevin, stopped what I was doing to watch this commercial when I heard the voice. It took me back to one of the all time great broadcast series – “The rest of the story” – a true classic and one that we were just talking about a week before the Super Bowl and this ad. Yes, Paul Harvey was a master story teller and this advertisement was a masterpiece. Thanks for this article that invites us all to reflect on the stories we tell and how we tell them as well as the beauty that lies in simplicity. Great job Richards Group, Dodge and Bob.

    • Thanks, Tom. I am now searching for Paul Harvey’s broadcasts on internet radio. I think we could all use a bit of inspiration! :)
      Bob

  5. 5
    ) Leonard Beeghley

    This ad — simple, evocative, and beautiful — has political implications that you all overlook.

    The first key to understanding the ad is to look at its demography. The ad features 15 white people, 1 African American, and 1 (maybe 2) Latinos. The managers and their families who run our farms are white. The people who raise our crops, who do the real work, are overwhelmingly of Mexican origin. Most have been in this country for many years and identify as American regardless of their legal status. Yet there is little that is simple, evocative, or beautiful about their lives and living conditions.

    The second key to understanding the ad is the use of Mr. Harvey’s voice-over. His sonorous voice evokes a conservative nostalgia for a past that did not exist. His politics were also conservative, which (whether one agrees or not) cannot be overlooked in evaluating the ad.

    The ad, however beautifully photographed, tells us that true Americans are rural, conservative, and white. I wonder if a company can survive by marketing itself to and asking the rest of us to identify with this demographic.

    • 11
      ) Janelle

      Leonard,

      I don’t often take the time to comment on this site. I usually just enjoy the articles and try to learn from them, but as a woman married to a hispanic man whose mother grew up picking cotton in West Texas, I feel I should weigh in on this.

      When I watch this ad, I don’t so much see the color of each person’s skin as the quality of their character that is being so beautifully displayed through the pictures and narrative of a man, whom to many, is a familiar, beloved voice. I see the traditional American work-ethic being celebrated. I see family and caring about others shown as traits to be valued. To me, this ad promotes wholesomeness, integrity, and hard work and does not in any way seem like an attack on those of non-white heritage. God made all people to have value Leonard, even white people. I’m sorry you missed the point of the ad…

      • 12
        ) Janelle

        and, really, the spirit it was trying to convey…

        • 13
          ) Leonard Beeghley

          I am glad you enjoyed the ad. So did I. I grew up in a small farming community in central Indiana and listened to Paul Harvey. His incredible voice and the accompanying photos make the ad evocative.

          As McLuhan once said, however, the medium is the message. I stand by my critique.

          • Leonard,

            I am so glad you stand by your critique – obviously, it is only your opinion. The fact that you try to make the point that the ad has political implications is just new speak hogwash; further exemplified by your need to point out that we all overlooked it… give me a break.

            The fact that you cannot look at the ad at for what it is explains the problem. An ad to sell trucks to anyone, black, white or Latino, it doesn’t matter. I think they were trying to sell trucks to good old, ordinary, hardworking Americans as mentioned at the end of the ad, “To the famer in all of us”.

            I didn’t grow up on a farm and I don’t drive a Dodge truck but I still felt a lot of American pride when I saw the commercial.
            Just my opinion,
            Tom

    • 19
      ) Leonard Beeghley

      Trust me, Bob. A lot of people “read as much into the commercial as [I] did.” Since this is a photography website, check out the photo of a farm worker on the Atlantic website in an article titled “The White Washing of the American Farmer: The Dodge Ram Super Bowl Ad.” Surely you can understand the point of the title. The author, by the way, came up with the same count I did. You might also check out the comments on this article. Despite what Janelle mentioned, I did not miss the point of the ad. To repeat: Despite it’s avowed point, the medium is the message. The commercial depicts a nostalgic and false view of both our past and present.

      By the way, I loved the ad…

      • 20
        ) Bruce

        Leonard, maybe you have a point, maybe not. Personally, I don’t think all the current rage of making sure that everything in our world accurately portrays true ethnic diversity is really all that useful. The ad wasn’t about “white-farmers”, “latino-farmers” or “purple-farmers”. It was about just plain ol’ “farmers” with no hyphenated qualifiers.

        Frankly, I paid no attention to the skin color of the people in the ad. And, no, that isn’t because I’m a prejudiced caucasian white male. It is because I don’t pay attention to skin color when forming an opinion of someone. I DO pay attention to the way they dress, the way they act, the way they speak. But not primarily their skin color.

        I would also argue with your statement that “the commercial depicts a nostalgic and false view of both our past and present”. You are continuing in your analysis of the ad based primarily on the preponderance of white people in it. Your entire opinion (or, at least, it seems to be your entire opinion) of the ad is based on a “racial justice” filter you are applying to it.

        Not everything boils down to race. Sometimes you need to look further than skin color and see that Paul Harvey was talking about something applicable to men (and women) of any skin color. Perhaps not all (or even some) farmers were as praise-worthy as Mr. Harvey would like us to think. But even so, the mere idea of someone better than ourselves gives us something to aspire to. In many ways, that is sorely lacking in today’s society. I would simply point to the SuperBowl half-time show as an example. I don’t want either of my daughters to aspire to be Beyonce ;-)

        I happen to know more than a few farmers that would likely fit Paul Harvey’s description of a farmer pretty well. Some of them are a little rough on the exterior, but inside of them is really and truly a heart of gold. Perhaps you should go out and get to know one or two family farmers.

        • Leonard,

          I already read the Atlantic account. I found it a pretty lame – just as lame as my example of people counting the members of each team, and if we found them to be lacking in representation based on skin color or ethnic background, turning off the TV.

          If you really believe you are correct, you might try applying the same standards to every television program, newscast, sports team, or any professional or social group. I find it curious that people singled out this ad for such constructive criticism. Did you count the number of people and their skin color and ethic backgrounds in all the other ads? Did the Atlantic? I am guessing that the answer is “no.” Did any cow organizations complain because there were no cows in the Doritos ad featuring the goat? ;)

          I think the reason some were so critical of the Harvey ad was because Paul Harvey was a conservative. I didn’t see that same level of scrutiny, concern, or other face-counting measures applied to the other ads, which could just as easily flunked the politically correct sniff test. But why be fair and apply the same standards to the other ads?

          Funny, but I have met many of the people that you claim don’t exist in the wine country of Pennsylvania and New York. Next time I have the opportunity to talk to them, I am sure they will be surprised to find that they are only a figment of your imagination. Perhaps it will ease that pain in their back around midnight after a long day of hauling boxes of wine…

          BTW, “the medium is the message” is one of the most quoted and misunderstood phrases. As I understand this phrase, it was meant to convey that the medium can influence us in subtle but powerful ways. That does not necessarily dilute the importance and impact of the message itself. The internet, high definition TVs, smartphones, tablets, etc. are indeed influencing society in ways unimaginable to previous generations. By themselves, however, these high tech have no story to tell – they are simple vehicles to communicate a messages. How they are changing our behavior and influencing our lives is indeed a topic worth discussing.

          Bob

          • 29
            ) Leonard Beeghley

            Hey, I liked the Atlantic piece. After all, the guy basically agrees with me and writes better. Anyway, this debate has been interesting and enjoyable. And it did not devolve into name calling, which is nice.

            I’ll sign off now.

    • 32
      ) Josh

      I’m sure you didn’t mean that statement to be so insulting, but “the people… who do the real work” in my area are the people who own their farms and are very accurately described by Paul Harvey’s text. You are generalizing quite a bit. Not all farms are big corporate endeavors that hire workers. In many parts of the Midwest, farms are still small businesses that can’t afford hired help. No one in my area uses migrant or ethnic or whatever workers. We run our farms and do all our own work the same way our great grandfathers did 90 years ago. We’re missing fingers and have broken ribs that never heal from the time that that bull kicked us. The non-Caucasians, for lack of a better word while I am all riled up, in this area don’t live in the small communities. They live in the cities and do not work in agriculture at all, except for a handful of wonderful people that work as professors at community colleges or the occasional Mexican and Chinese restaurants (that’s not meant to sound racist, that is quite literally the only alternative ethnicity in my town). Even in large farming operations it is not true that everyone hires out work. I have friends in Oklahoma and Texas who have thousands of head of cattle and do all their own ranching with just their sons and an occasional helping hand from the neighbors.

  6. One of the best commercials in a long time. Listened to Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story” for years. Nobody tells a story like he did.

    • I too am a Paul Harvey fan. The commercial was not just good because of Paul Harvey. It was so different than the other high paced, fast action commercials. Being a photographer, I was drawn into the commercial in a loud Superbowl party room just because of the pictures. The pictures were technically excellent and narratively moving. Then I locked into Paul Harvey’s voice.

      Part of a good commercial is being unique to get noticed. Ram did just that with this excellent commercial.

      • Tim,
        One of the best I have seen in quite some time.
        Bob

  7. 7
    ) Glenn

    Yep I remember that man Harvey. It might just be a sign of hope when two of the most liked and talked about ads this year were this one and the Bud Clydesdales!

  8. I wrote my response to this award-winning commercial in my blog this morning at http://www.dennisgingerich.com/the-farmer-in-me/ . As one who grew up on a grass-seed farm in Oregon and listening to Paul Harvey every day while out on a tractor or combine, it profoundly touched me. So, I wrote “The Farmer in Me.”

    • Thanks for sharing, Dennis. As you can see some loved it and others, like the Atlantic, could only find fault with it.
      Bob

  9. 10
    ) MichaelG

    An excellent and effective ad. Proof that people will watch and listen to commercials is they are well done and have some intrinsic value. I remember the first time I heard Paul Harvey recite that piece and have never forgotten it. Kudos to Dodge for giving it a new audience and presenting it in a very dignified way. Look at how effective that ad is. It never once mentioned the word Dodge except for the closing frames yet the entire country is talking about it this morning and knows it was presented by Dodge Ram.

    Many years ago one of the large ad agencies in NY (McCann Ericson if I recall correctly) took out a full page ad in a newspaper. The ad had a picture of a ten penny nail. Nothing more. Just the nail. Then along side the nail were bullet comments explaining about the nail…it’s makeup, how it was made, how it can be put to use. Absolutely fascinating. The tag line was “There are no boring products; only boring ways of presenting them”. With some creativity and good writing they were able to sell a nail and make enough of an impression that I remember it some forty years later.

    Still photos, well used, can create the most lasting impressions and smart advertisers have learned that.

    BTW, the panning/zooming technique that Ken Burns introduced to incorporate still photos into a filmed documentary is known in the industry as the “Ken Burns effect”. A great way to use still photos.

    • Michael,
      Nice to see that a simple, low-budget ad can compete and beat the dizzying high budget, high tech creations produced by Madison Avenue.
      Bob

  10. 16
    ) Bruce

    Like most commenting here, I have fond memories of Paul Harvey’s “Rest of the Story” radio programs. My mother came from a family of 11 and grew up on a farm in eastern Iowa (truly part of the “heartland” of America). Through my aunts, uncles and cousins on that side of my family I heard a great many stories of mischief, family bonding and hard work. I visited some of the farms in that area and went fishing on the Mississippi river with my uncle. The farmer that Paul Harvey speaks about is, indeed, real. That type of man is the “real” America.

    However, being a car guy, I can’t get over the fact that this is a Jeep ad. Jeep is, and has been for quite a few years, a part of Chrysler. I’m sure everyone knows that Chrysler and along with it, Jeep, is now owned by Fiat of Italy.

    To me the commercial, while inspiring due to Paul Harvey and his humble words, is also ironic in that it presents “true American” values in a commercial for a company that was once American but is no longer. It is a somewhat transparent attempt at preserving the “American-ness” of a company that is slowly losing it’s identity.

    To me, this commercial was both inspiring (due to Paul Harvey’s words) and depressing (due to the fact that tax-payer money was used to prop up Chrysler who then turned around and sold itself to Fiat). I appreciate the fine craftsmanship of the ad but am somewhat cynical of the message it is trying to convey.

  11. Bruce,
    Like you, I struggled with the notion of the bail-outs and the sad state of having to sell one of America’s premier brands to a foreign business. I tried to separate the irony of Chrysler being owned by Fiat from the appeal of the ad, and consider it more on its artistic merits.
    Bob

  12. I rarely watch football or television for that matter, but had decided to half watch the game while working on other things. It was weird when the commercial came on because I knew that voice from somewhere but couldn’t quite place it at the time. Growing up in Kansas I would listen to Paul Harvey during long drives while making deliveries for a lumber company where I used to work.

    I actually felt misty-eyed and a little warm inside while watching the commercial. It wasn’t just the voice or the images; it was mainly due to the message. Heck, at first I thought it was an ad for a church or something. Being a photographer at heart, I was so impressed with the imagery that I was glad to see it a couple of more times on the web. It was so much better than the tripe that is typically used to sell a product nowadays. Great article Bob and thanks for sharing.

    Tom

    • Thanks, Tom. I would like to see more inspiring commercials than the usual mix that often leaves me wondering if they are seeking to turn business away rather than attract it!
      Does this ad really motivate people to buy their product? :)
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nwy5tPenLJo
      Bob

  13. 28
    ) MartinG

    I loved the photos. I loved the tone of the voice. I loved the pacing rhythm and timing of the images and the VoiceOver. I accept the idea that farming is a potentially ennobling profession often done lovingly.

    Like any good piece of “spin” it idealises and oversimplifies the lifestyle and the issues. Farming can have dramatic environmental consequences. There probably isn’t space for a discussion of organic farming, pesticides and the dangers of monoculture cropping in an advertisement. I personally wish God had handpicked all the farmers and that they were all saints. Some clearly are, but there are plenty of areas of concern.

    It is a brilliant advertisement because it taps into how we would love to see farming. Advertisements are supposed to appeal to our emotions rather than our wider knowledge.

    There is a real danger in allowing ourselves to believe that the world the advertisers present us with actually reflects real life in any way. It doesn’t and it shouldn’t have to. When we watch advertisements we should always remember it is not the real world they are trying to portray, it is an idealised version, a world we would like to believe in.

    This advertisement does it much better than most, but it IS an avdertisement. If we believed in the world of advertising we’d all still be smoking, drinking too much, eating fast food and driving cars which use too much fuel.

    Hopefully the vehicle it aims to sell does stand up to close examination on fuel economy, safety and quality of construction and that the employment record of the company is sound. (Built in America, fair wages and conditions etc.)

    If it does, fantastic.

    • Martin,
      Does this mean Deon Sanders is not really playing in the NFL this year? Or that someone doesn’t have a house full of Doritos and a goat? Say it isn’t so…
      Ads are a bit like movies and actors – I may not admire a given character (either the actual actor or the part they are playing), but can appreciate the talent it took to do the part.
      Bob

      • 33
        ) Martin G

        I’d love to see Deon Sanders playing again. Bring back Joe Montana too.

        Please note that I never said I did not admire the sheer emotion and skill displayed in the advertisement. Wonderful use of photography etc.

        On advertising, can I refer you to The Gruen Transfer (both the show and the concept)?

  14. 34
    ) Padmanabhan

    Bob,

    The pics are elegant, simple but yet so riveting and amazing. It’s a treat to watch the way light has been used in these pics. Amazing photography and they deliver the message without making any loud and garish visuals.

    Great collection.

  15. 35
    ) Bruce Thornbrugh

    i love the dodge commercial it is time we brought God and family values to television. God bless

  16. 36
    ) JR

    Bob,
    In case you forgot, but you ended *YOUR THOUGHTS* with this statement:

    “…Your Thoughts?
    What did you think of the commercial and what does it say about how photography can be used to effectively convey a message and stir people’s emotions?..”

    Like the big kid on the block inviting his friends over for cake, then locking the door and beating them over the head if they don’t play the way HE wants them to play, you invite people to offer their thoughts then proceeded to shoot them down. What gives, Bob? Leonard simply shared his thoughts and you responded with this gem: “Did you count the number of people and their skin color and ethic backgrounds in all the other ads?”

    Guess what, Bob, other Super Bowl ads are just as racially and demographically biased as this Dodge ad. Do you think that GoDaddy’s commercial with a babe kissing a fat nerd doesn’t have some subliminal implications? Or how about the umpteen junk food ads with three white guys and the mandatory, token black guy, sitting around watching a football game? How many circles of friends in America actually have this type of demographic? VERY FEW. Those companies are obviously trying to pitch their product to a new-fangled politically correct America. Other ads, like this Dodge truck commercial, go the complete, opposite way and try to target a very specific group and could care less about being “politically correct”.

    Leonard made some astute observations and seemingly knows a thing or two about advertising; and politics. Or, at the very least, has traveled through Nebraska, Colorado or California and observed a landscape dotted with Mexican and Central American hunchbacks picking crops from an earth scorched by 100 deg sun.

    As someone who’s totally apolitical and can see through the weak transparency of most political propaganda(even when veiled in tear-inducing truck ads), I saw the commercial for what it was: a truck company pitching their products and employing a well-known, highly respected conservative pitch man as the narrator, while using highly evocative images of MOSTLY white people. After all, it will MOSTLY be these white Americans who will drop the $40K on these trucks, and not the hunchback barely able to sustain a legal driver’s license. That was Leonard’s point and he made it very well.

    BTW, I have nothing against Paul Harvey; on the contrary. He was a BRILLIANT orator and I enjoyed his noon radio show immensely. My only issue is with you blindly defending the Paul Harvey commercial as if though it was off limits to any criticism or “thoughts” contrary to yours:

    “I think the reason some were so critical of the Harvey ad was because Paul Harvey was a conservative. I didn’t see that same level of scrutiny, concern, or other face-counting measures applied to the other ads, which could just as easily flunked the politically correct sniff test. But why be fair and apply the same standards to the other ads?”

    You “didn’t see that same level of scrutiny, concern, or other face-counting measures applied to the” GoDaddy commercial? REALLY?! The commercial that was so far left and graphic that it made even the most liberal pundits cringe with disgust? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7ZLjWkYmr8

    I can understand your admiration of Paul Harvey, for political reasons or otherwise, but don’t let that admiration get in the way of your better judgment and common sense by allowing you to lose sight of this simple, little fact: America is a capitalist, money-driven society and companies will do WHATEVER it takes to get their products sold. To attach Godly values or wholesomeness to an advertising campaign goes directly against the core of anything that Jesus Christ himself would endorse.

    • 45
      ) MartinG

      I agree with JR that if you ask for “your thoughts” you should not feel you have to try shoot down people you think have a different take. Photographs used to manipulate and or stimulate are still photographs. How to combine them will impact on people differently.
      No disrespect is intended but sometimes we have to remember that advertising (even when it is great) is still advertising. I used to really enjoy the Marlborough advertisements as kid. I have never been a smoker but I loved the advertisements. It was just a pity about the product.

  17. 37
    ) JR

    “Perhaps you could spend some time with the people rotting in Castro’s Cuban jails because they had the audacity to criticize the Castro regime.”

    This is a PERFECT example of what prompted me to respond to this thread in the first place. You use a photography centric site to push your over righteous, ego-inflated political views by making statements to strangers that I’m sure you wouldn’t dare say in person. Completely offensive and utterly idiotic statements without a clue as to whom you’re saying these things to. A site dedicated to the art of photography and you turn it into a cesspool of political drama by getting on a soap box much larger than you can handle.

    You want to talk about Cuba and communism? What do YOU know about communism? Have you LIVED IT?

    Guess how I made it to the USA, bud?

    My father died in a Cuban prison(El Morro) in 1966, when I was four years old, at the hands of Che Guevara’s henchmen. Our house, our business and our lives were stolen from us and I had to migrate to this country as a refugee; as well as thousands of other Cubans. I can write a book, or two, about the cancer that is a communist regime. I don’t need an armchair, corn-fed politico telling me how I should view the world. When you’ve walked in my shoes, come talk to me about communism.

    That experience hasn’t blinded me to the fact that Dodge it trying to make a buck; no more, no less. Is it wrong for them to advertise and try to sell their products? Of course not! What’s wrong is when people like you try to attach a deeper, broader, righteous, patriotic, holier-than-thou meaning to a transparent advertising campaign and evangelize your rhetoric on the net; while dogging anyone else who sees things differently…..and doing so on a site devoted STRICTLY to photography.

    That’s the kicker in the pants. I come to this site to get away from the nonsense that CNN, Fox et al spew and what do I get? The SAME political fanaticism, but veiled in a shroud of cameras and lenses.

    Nasim should seriously rethink having you on his staff. You’ve managed to crap all over it.

  18. 38
    ) Leonard Beeghley

    JR: please lower the decibel count. I disagree with Bob’s (and most of the others’) interpretation of the commercial. I probably also disagree with them in terms of overall political orientation. As stated earlier: I stand by my critique.

    But if you look back, our conversation was civil, more than civil actually, it was enjoyable. Let’s keep it that way.

    • 39
      ) JR

      Leonard,

      Instead of saying “JR: please lower the decibel count” have you thought about saying: “Bob, buddy, you’ve crossed the line”. Did you find ANYTHING that Bob said potentially offensive to at least one or two readers of his blog? Or, are you that desensitized that you don’t care?

      Bob has highjacked Nasim’s site with this article and used it as a propaganda platform for his politics. For him to throw around words like “Castro” and “communism” so freely without caring who may be listening, on a photography site no less, speaks volumes about his arrogance. He has little regard for his audience and no respect for this web site’s mission. For you to not see how his words could be highly offensive is very troubling.

      Imagine this scenario:

      Nasim invites me to write a column on HIS site . After careful thought, I choose to center the article around the photography of National Geographic and, more specifically, on an article that highlights the plight of the Third World. In the article much is made about how these poor countries are being raped for profit by the First World and the photography drives home the point.

      When a reader, or three, respond negatively to my article, I shoot back to them with the following gem: “Perhaps you could spend some time with the people of Viet Namand see how they’re living”.

      Just image the kinds of responses I would receive by Viet Nam vets who endured losing limbs and seeing their friends blown up. I would think that would be the LAST article that Nasim allows me to write for his site; or at the very least throws a warning my way asking me to “concentrate on the photography and not on your political agenda”.

      If you enjoy your photography sites sprinkled with some politics, more power to you. Keep urging Bob, and others, to find more stuff to write about. There’s plenty out there, for sure.

      • JR, buddy, you’ve crossed the line! – Sorry I couldn’t resist.

        Let me start out by complementing you, Lenard, Bob, and everyone else for you writing skills. I can only dream to be so articulate. Ok, enough rear-end kissing.

        I think most people interested in photography will read the original post and will not come away with the feeling it was political. However, after reading all the comments succeeding the post I want to say, “What the hell, how did we get here?” When did we go from a discussion about artful photography to political accusations? I have to admit I was sucked into the same political discussion and the more I read the responses the more unpleasant it becomes.

        I have to agree with Leonard’s comment “lower the decibel count”, even though I don’t agree with his political stance or his need to push a political agenda in this blog; he still has the right to do so. As do you also, JR.

        It just frustrates me that this kind of newspeak always comes up in such innocuous places. You, JR, are doing no justice for yourself or this blog by constantly perpetuating your political agenda whether you are correct or not – it doesn’t matter. You are coming across very defensive… and even a bit jealous. Just because you were offended by a few comments, let it go man. I know you can say the same thing to me; and you would be correct but maybe we can stop this unnecessary political bickering here and now and get back to the more important subject – Photography.

        Additionally, I did get your point that you feel Bob stepped over the line, but in no way can I agree with you that he has “high jacked” this site. It ultimately comes down to the fact that you don’t agree with him. Guess what, it is his blog and he can say what he wants. If you don’t like it, switch channels. That’s the rhetoric I her when I am offended by some of the crap that is on the airways nowadays.

        Let’s get back on target and realize that we will never all agree with each other. I would rather celebrate the fact that this is what makes this country so great. It will never be perfect but if we continue to make everything politically correct, we will do nothing but destroy it.

        Tom

        • By the way JR – You have some great photos on your site!

  19. 42
    ) JR

    Bob,

    If I hadn’t written my initial post in such a hurry(I was late to an appointment) I may have gotten my point across a bit clearer and used some crescendo; instead of starting off with bombast! I suppose I made the assumption that some things were understood, when the reality is that I glossed over some important details.

    The most important detail I left out is this: I read your article the day you posted it and found it quite uplifting. I didn’t disagree with ANYTHING you said the first time I read it(before there were any comments), nor do I disagree with any of it today. I saw the commercial, accompanied by some friends and family, on the night of the Super Bowl and there’s no doubt that the producers of that ad did a brilliant job. Everyone I was with agreed that Harvey’s voice along with the simple, yet powerful, images made the point; loud and clear. Your article did justice to the production and I COMPLETELY and CLEARLY understand that the thrust of you article was to highlight the success of the ad campaign.

    The second point that I left out is that I am very much on board with a number of Paul Harvey’s views; specially his chilling prose titled “If I were the Devil”. I am no stranger to Harvey nor what he stood for.

    When things went south for me is when I revisited this blog and started reading through the posts that weren’t there when I first read your article on that first day. Your response to Leonard triggered a very negative and ugly feeling in my stomach. The first thing I said to myself was: “Bob is bating readers into a sparring match where he can showcase his political views and he’s using Photographylife as his caged ring. Why is he using a photography blog to do so when there are plenty of other avenues where he can do this?”

    Read through the progression of posts starting with Leonard’s first response and tell me that you didn’t ratchet up a few levels of antagonism? Your angst is palpable across the cloud. Reading through your response to Leonard sounded like you’d been insulted beyond any reasonable measure, when Leonard did little else than offer his “thoughts” without giving the slightest hint that he disagreed with you. He simply offered another way of viewing the commercial and, frankly, he’s not far off the mark.

    Really, unless we live under a rock and are completely oblivious to the sociopolitical climate that permeates the world we live in, there is no way we can honestly say that we can’t see what Leonard saw. It’s too obvious.

    You and Tom would like to think that I was the one who brought politics into the conversation. That is laughable. I came to the party a month too late when ya’ll had already kicked off the convention. I even stated that I am apolitical and have no dog in this fight. My ONLY beef is the writer of a PHOTOGRAPHY blog bating his readers into a political fist fight.

    You posted these words ONE MONTH before I posted my first remarks:
    “I think the reason some were so critical of the Harvey ad was because Paul Harvey was a conservative. I didn’t see that same level of scrutiny, concern, or other face-counting measures applied to the other ads, which could just as easily flunked the politically correct sniff test. But why be fair and apply the same standards to the other ads?”

    With all due respect, Bob, but that’s where you crossed the line. That’s when you lost all sight of your role on photographylife and began to evangelize your political slant. And please note that I don’t care if you’re left, right or center. It’d bothered me if you were defending any side and using the guise of photography to do so.

    Then, you go on a rant about Venezuela and Cuba and this and that. Dude, please! For the love of anything you consider sacred. Keep that excrement out of this blog. The last thing I want to do is come to the most popular photography site on the net, and my favorite, and be reminded of the demons and ghosts that have haunted me and my family for the past 46 years. I’ve lost my father, my house, my country and my innocence and you seem to think these are topics to be discussed on a photography blog.

    I will leave you with this quote from King Solomon:

    “For everything there is an appointed time, even a time for every affair under the heavens…a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to wail and a time to skip about…..and……[a time to talk politics and a time to stick to photography]…”

    • JR,

      The hard working small farms and the farmers that run them are very much alive, regardless of what Leonard believes. If you apply a litmus test to all commercials, none would pass – not one – as we could easily find some group not perfectly represented, some distortion of facts or history, and/or someone somewhere that didn’t agree with the viewpoint of the ad. And anyone throwing stones and criticizing Chrysler/Dodge for attempting to increase its sales via a creative ad should have a solid explanation of just how Chrysler/Dodge’s workers are going to keep their jobs without paying customers. :)

      And that is, as my friend Paul Harvey would say, “The Rest of the Story.” Good day!

      Bob

  20. Oh wow, just read the comments above and scratched my head – how did we get to politics on a photography blog? :)

    Seriously, please be nice to each other, that’s all I ask. Neither myself, nor Bob have any interest in pushing any political agenda. There might be difference of opinion, to which we are all entitled, but we should learn to respect it.

    As far as I am concerned, camera gear is much more fun to discuss than politics! When is that Nikon 300mm f/4G VR coming? :D

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