My fascination with ad campaigns began long before Mad Men took us into the smokey boardrooms where ideas and fortunes take shape. Advertisers get a lot of well-deserved flack for engineering the siren songs that drive our overly-materialistic society, but my fascination lies in the simple truth that good advertisers are simply tapping in to what we want. What we really want. No matter how much we claim fidelity, it is their job to see us for the lovelorn sailors we really are and sing accordingly. Sometimes they’re right, and sometimes they’re wrong, but either way we get a peek into what their focus groups and national polls are saying about America.
Which is why I rejoiced when I saw one of last night’s most popular super Bowl ads:
It seems the folks at Chrysler took the temperature of the room and decided that farmers are the way to our hearts. To understand the full implication of this assessment, remember that less than one percent of the U.S. population claim farming as their occupation, meaning that Chrysler surely isn’t planning to make their fortune by selling Ram trucks to the agricultural set. Rather, they are gambling that the words of Paul Harvey (an Oklahoma, I might add) will speak to all of us who like to buy eggs from the farmers’ market or wax nostalgic about the summers we spent helping our grandmother shell her garden peas.
Food has always been the way to our hearts, and it seems America is finally waking up to the fact that farmers are the way to food.
Ram isn’t the first player at the table: check out this ad series for Lays. I’m not in love with the fact that some of the very processed food producers and hawkers who helped drive our national food system into the ground are now trying to capitalize on the growing interest in transparent agriculture.
Now that we are all listening to the same song, let’s recognize the sirens for what they really are and steer clear of the rocks.
PS: Another refreshing cultural barometer is buried in this ad by Toyota. When a little girl asks to be a princess, her fantasy includes a war horse and there’s nothing pink in sight.