Super Bowl Sunday offers the opportunity to get together with friends, overindulge, watch football and enjoy what are usually humorous or outrageous million-dollar ad spots. While humor seemed to miss its mark this year, one powerful commercial stole the spotlight.
Super Sunday lacked the kind of commercials that leave a lasting impression on viewers, or at least it did until a commercial break during the fourth quarter of play when Dodge ran a two-minute ad for its Ram line of trucks.
The commercial began with a shot of a lone cow contrasting the dull color of a barren, snow-covered farm. The name “Paul Harvey” adorned the screen, introducing the voice of the late radio broadcaster considered to be “the voice of Middle America.” His folksy demeanor and thoughtful insights entertained listeners for decades, especially in his best-know segment, The Rest of the Story.
The poem that followed was delivered by Harvey in 1978. Paired with powerful still-frame photos of grizzled farmers, tractors and cultivated farm land, Harvey’s voice and thoughtful words resounded louder than any commercial that was aired during the game. It was the kind of ad spot that didn’t need irony or sexy women to hammer its point home.
For so many Americans, the work of the nation’s farmers is an afterthought. Harvey’s words paint the picture of what life is like for so many hard-working people, and Dodge did a fantastic job finding meaning to cut through the clutter of the cookie-cutter approach so many other car manufacturers use in their advertising.
The point of the commercial was simple: Dodge Ram trucks are made for hard-working Americans.
Simple is sometimes better in an age in which everything falls to a more extreme portion of the spectrum. Advertising and promotion is all about cutting through the clutter and leaving a lasting impression on consumers, and Dodge did just that.
Advertisers missed the mark this year, made evident by the lack of buzz for nearly any other commercial. Budweiser’s “Clydesdale Brotherhood” was one of the better ads of the evening, and GoDaddy.com certainly evoked a reaction with a gratuitous make-out session. But Dodge delivered a commercial that will stick with viewers longer than either of those, and hopefully it did enough to warrant more such advertising from a company that clearly understands how to make an impression.