By STEVE BINDER
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — One of the highest-rated ads during this year’s Super Bowl broadcast didn’t incorporate scantily clad people, or offbeat humor, or high-tech gadgetry.
Instead, it used the words and straightforward delivery of one of the nation’s best-known radio broadcasters, the late Paul Harvey, to recognize the work of farmers. The farming images also were rated as among the best of the day’s ads.
And, perhaps most important, the ad campaign orchestrated by Dodge Ram quickly reached a goal of 10 million views online so that it triggered a $1 million donation to the FFA Foundation.
Harvey, who died nearly three years ago, was the popular radio personality who regularly delivered “The Rest of the Story” broadcasts. The words used in Ram’s commercial were first delivered to the FFA during its national convention in 1978.
Ron Cooper, executive director of the FFA Foundation, said Ram first approached the FFA with the idea of doing a yearlong campaign as a tribute to farmers, along with a kickoff Super Bowl ad, about a year ago.
“Dodge has been a longtime partner for us and when they first approached us with the idea, it really resonated with us,” Cooper said. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive from our membership, from teachers throughout the country, from our corporate and individual supporters and from the general community.
“Ram’s opportunity has put the National FFA Organization on center stage and we are extremely appreciative to have that spotlight, which helps us further educate the general public about the importance of agriculture in their everyday lives.”
The two-minute ad, which cost in excess of $7 million to broadcast, was rated as the third-best overall during the Super Bowl by USA Today’s ranking system. Hulu’s (an online viewing service) fan voting placed it No. 1.
While the ad doesn’t even mention or show a Ram truck until the end, the spot nonetheless has driven traffic to Dodge’s website. According to the car-shopping website AutoTrader.com, the Ram brand received a 55 percent boost in online search activity in the 12 hours immediately following the ad’s broadcast Feb. 4.
“That’s a big number,” said John Kovac, an AutoTrader vice president.
Cooper said the ad should help the agriculture industry overall. “We always want to raise the level of knowledge and awareness people have of the industry, and to let them know that there are more than 300 careers attached to agriculture beyond just farming the land,” he said.
The FFA administrator said representatives from Ram notified him last week the ad hit the 10-million view mark online within about four days after it aired during the Super Bowl. Titled “So God Made A Farmer,” the ad can be viewed at www.ramtrucks.com/keep plowing
In a statement, Chrysler Group LLC Chair Sergio Marchionne said, “For the past two years, we have used the largest television viewing audience to highlight the pride, the resilience and the determination that form an integral part of the American character.”
The ad begins a campaign from Dodge that the company has dubbed “The Year of the Farmer.” Its $1 million contribution to the FFA ranks among the largest single corporate donation; last year, the foundation received a total of $16.2 million in corporate contributions, a record.