In My Opinion
Where Was the Diversity in the “So God Made a Farmer” Super Bowl Ad?
Of all the commercials featured during the Super Bowl, the one that has been of most interest to me is the Dodge RAM "So God Made a Farmer" commercial, featuring the iconic voice of conservative radio personality, Paul Harvey and his tribute to farmers - my reaction to which was bittersweet.
What we did not see in the ad were the equally hard working farmers and land workers many of us have spotted on the fields of farms like those in the West and East coasts (where we often see a large number of Mexicans and Central Americans working the fields), the Midwest (where there are a large number of Hmong farmers) and in the South (where a large number of black farmers reside).
As the Internet reacted and cried out over this exclusion, others in defense also spoke up stating that “the brand was targeting those who regularly purchase their product” and pointed out that, in fact, there was one black person, and two, maybe even three Latinos that can be seen in the ad.
Some, like myself, didn’t even notice at first, because we are just so used to not noticing. Because we are used to seeing images over and over and over again, throughout the course of our lives of people who do many of the things we do or aspire to do, but are never represented by anyone like us.
To some, this exclusion isn’t much of a big deal. And if a big deal IS made, there’s a chance that you’d be dismissed as someone who makes “everything about race”. It’s easy to get defensive and annoyed when it is never you who is excluded, or unrecognized, or made to feel as if what you contribute, in this case, to the farming community, doesn’t really matter.
It’s important to understand and learn about the farming history of this country to grasp how significant the exclusion of blacks and Latinos in the visual tribute to the American farmer really is, especially to an audience as large and as diverse as the Super Bowl crowd.
It is also important to note, that by using the excuse that they are simply reaching out “to their consumers” (thus eliminating the need to represent anyone else in their marketing campaigns), advertisers are ignoring the fact that blacks and Latinos represent the fastest growing minority groups in the United States.
We are quickly becoming the consumer powerhouses coveted by brands and agencies who “get it”. In a few short years, we will surpass, both in numbers and in spending, the “consumers being spoken to” in the Dodge ad, and in many cases, we already do. I can’t imagine any brand or company who is so financially secure as to not need to appeal to a more diverse section of the population with any one of their products. To assume that the Mexicans currently picking the fields won’t ever be in the position to buy their trucks is a short-sighted approach to business, and one I can’t image will succeed for long.
Representation of diversity in the media is a powerful thing, not only to build brand and consumer loyalty, but also to empower future generations. I know for a fact that the automobile industry is short on qualified manufacturers and laborers. It might help to be more inclusive in their campaigns so as to build a brand that future generations might be inspired enough to work for and purchase from. With a growing minority population well on its way, it might be smart to start appealing to that audience now.
Lastly, my reaction to the follow up video put together by Cuéntame, a non-profit Latino empowerment group, though beautiful as well, remains, in my eyes to be equally exclusive and lacking in diversity and, like the Dodge commercial, tells only part of the story of who the food laborers of this country are.
Diversity isn’t defined by getting rid of one group and replacing it with another; it means representing the reality of the groups you are speaking for and being inclusive in the groups you are speaking to.
Where marketing representatives start in doing this can be as easy as looking around your boardroom table and seeing who isn’t represented before putting out that next advertisement. I bet the reality of who is sitting around those tables right now would explain a lot.