The #1 Rated Super Bowl Commercial Shot By 10 Photographers

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Photographers Andy AndersonWilliam AllardJim ArndtDaniel BeltraMark GoochAndy MahrKurt MarkusDavid SpielmanMatt Turley and Olaf Veltman got the call of a lifetime when veteran adman Jimmy Bonner of The Richard’s Group phoned with simple instructions and a mantra from Paul Harvey. He asked them to go spend time with farmers and ranchers and take pictures to be shown in a 2 minute spot for Ram during the Super Bowl. No AD’s or clients or craft service; just photographers and their subjects.

AdWeek is calling it the #1 spot from the Super Bowl and love or hate the sentimental message you’ve got see this as a clear referendum on the power of photography. At nearly $3,800,000 per 30 seconds of air time, Ram and The Richards Group made a huge bet and came up aces. According to Andy Anderson and his blog Rob Baker, and Deb Grisham we’re also involved in the production.

There Are 114 Comments On This Article.

  1. I agree that it was the best ad of the Superbowl…and one of the best I’ve seen in general. It stopped my in my tracks. Here is my tweet right after “No explosions, no scantily clad women, no special effects. Just pure photography. Awesome! #RAM #superbowl”

    But come on Richard’s Group…couldn’t you find even one female photographer to hire?

    • Julie, I agree with everything you say. It stopped me in my tracks, too. I grew up on a Central MT wheat farm that my 77 year old dad & 77 year old mom still farm–my great-grandparents homesteaded it…it is just 30 miles from Geraldine, MT…where I recognize many of Markus’ (amazing!) shots.

      But I wondered the same thing…no females? COME ON. I idolize every one of these guys on this list, but many of them are the go-to’s editors and agencies always seem to think of when in need of imagery of rural America, cowboys, etc. There are so many wonderful female photographers out there shooting this type of imagery, and they could have included at least one! I’m a nobody, but 99.9% of what I shoot is rural America. I know I’m not the only female out here doing it, and it would have nice to see at least one of my female colleagues on this list!

      • Socialmedic

        “God” didn’t make female photographers. “God” made women barefoot and pregnant and forced to be hopelessly dependent on males to shape the economy their existence and the material of their minds. If the country is going to go backwards to patriarchal religion, so goes Women’s progress. Women’s suffrage was about breaking the religious oppression of women. When Alice Paul went on her hunger strike for the women’s vote women and children were still chattel: the property of men. The vote was won by ONE vote. Women’s rights and freedoms were slow to progress, but for the last three decades and the resurgence of religion, they have not only come to a standstill, they have regressed and will continue to do so.

    • According to the National Agricultural Workers Survey in 2001, 75% of agricultural workers identified themselves as born in Mexico. That number’s even bigger now in 2013. So that’s another misrepresentation in the ad, really.

      Since Americans of all races have strong (and varied) feelings about immigrant labor, I can understand why Ram went in this direction, but I think it’s a pity.

      • Donnor Party

        Lets not forget that advertising is a fantasy, not social criticism. Its about positive emotion associated with a decision to buy something, not about raising awareness of serious social issues which are, in fact, a buzz kill.

    • I am just now finding this list of photogs, and while happy for the artistic inspiration I am in awe there wasn’t AT LEAST ONE talented go-to female photog in this ad agency’s contact list. At least not one they chose for a multi-million dollar spot like this.

  2. I was watching the superbowl and a local theater and the whole place went quiet when the ad came on. Then there was some clapping afterwords (and a little booing, they don’t like dodge I guess?). I was glad to see that photography could still gain people’s undivided attention.

    Thanks APE for posting the list of photographers. But, I asked myself the same question Julie did, couldn’t you the Richard’s Group find one female photographer to help out? We can handle it, you know.

    • I’m sick of female photographers whining that they don’t get their opportunities. There are as many photographic opportunities, if not more, presented to women than there are for men. Just one example given, I bet you have never been accosted by an angry parent, suggesting that you’re a pervert, because you happen to have pointed your camera in the direction of their child?

      • Chad A Stevens

        Tom, perhaps if female photographers had been hired as well, the images would have been a more representative portrayal of the demographics of farming culture in America. Also your whining about others “whining” – especially from your point of privilege – devalues any argument you have.

          • Leave it to someone like Shawn Linehan to turn even this lovely ad into a soapbox for their discontent as a person and as an artist. I suppose we should have found one LGBT photographer to help out, one physically handicapped photographer to help out, one mentally handicapped photographer to help out, one veteran photographer to help out, one Hispanic photographer to help out, one African American photographer to help out, one Muslim photographer to help out, one LGBT physically handicapped African American Muslim photographer to help out, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah………….

            • stephen pierson

              A brilliant and gorgeous commercial. Rare (and entirely awesome) to see such a mainstream ode to photography. Which both Shawn and Julie foregrounded in their comments. I think it’s still possible (and correct) to also be slightly critical of things we find brilliant. Given that (in my narrow experience) about 40% of all professional photographers are female, the odds of randomly selecting 10 male photographers is 165 to 1. It’s not PC-liberal-soapbox-BS to point this out. And pointing it out doesn’t detract from my appreciation of the commercial.

                • Ha! True, true Rob. It’s crazy here in Montana. We still have a population under one million and just one area code. And basically just one skin color. Unless you’re on a reservation or watching a UM or MSU game, you’re (sadly!) just not going to see much ethnic diversity here and, unfortunately, definitely not on rural farms and ranches. I bought a coffee table book a few years ago called The American Farmer by Paul Mobley, and he managed to find farmers of many skin tones. I thought he might be one of the ten photographers featured in this ad, but his name wasn’t in there.

            • Women are half of the population. You really think it’s okay that 100% of the people hired to shoot this were men? It’s like female photographers don’t even exist!

      • Socialmedic

        Any photographer pointing a camera at ANYONE is at risk. Ever think about asking permission?

        • Most professional photographers engage their subjects first and do ask permission.
          I’m not sure where your comment is coming from. Did you have a bad experience?

    • @Shawn…Great name by the way (laughs). It was silent at the house where I was also. My guess is that it had to do with where Super Bowl ads have gone and also the rhetoric involved. Doritos helped to change the ad competition into a comedic atmosphere. They provide up to $1million for the top ad on the NY Times ad meter for Monday. Almost all of the submissions are comedic. Next, although I enjoyed the shots, I wondered where the rhetoric came in during the Super Bowl. Important statements but probably not best suited for the Big Game. There were probably a few Dodge haters sprinkled about also but I don’t think they dominated the rooms. Tieuel Legacy! Motion aka Shawnre’

  3. Terry W Bass

    Wonderful work. Deserves real credit. Message was strong!!! Paul Harvey was a longtime acquaintance of mine. Personally and professionally. Congratulaions to your entire team!
    Terry W. Bass
    Helena,Mt
    USA

  4. It’s was done two years ago by Farm.com. They just used local farmer’s snapshots and weren’t selling trucks. Find it on YouTube. It’s not an original ideas by Dodge… Just a blatant copy.

  5. The ad caused me to stop….look…..and listen. I am proud to say my Father is a Farmer. I could only hope to make a fraction of the impact on my children that my Father has made on my life. Long live the American Farmer!

  6. right on! … American Farmer, the best commercial, especially with Paul Harvey voice-over, even with the mix of what looks like an HDR image included. Seems the other commercials were entertaining enough and at times borderline stupid. After the splendid array of images for American Farmer, I didn’t mind that it was a commercial for trucks. fantastic job! – looked really good on 47″ HDTV.
    Superbowl?, what Superbowl?

    • Yeah, old argument that never held water. It also has nothing to do with what I’m talking about.

      If you want to create something that speaks to an American experience that we all should be able to identify with, then do that. Considering diversity in the messages that we put out, or in the hiring of those who create the messages, isn’t something that’s done at another group’s expense. It makes it more inclusive, and it speaks to a wider audience. We all have some common values in this country, but the imagery in this ad didn’t speak to that.

  7. Thank you again for posting the most comprehensive article on one of the best photographic ads I have seen in a while. The links to the photographers are so helpful. Thank you.

  8. GORGEOUS images. A well done ad.
    But yeah, I am now living in CA and drive by farms all the time, and I don’t think I have ever seen a white person doing the farming. No joke. I am glad someone pointed that out.

    • Exactly what I was thinking. Great, powerful images. But my brain added some of my own, of immigrant families working with their children under the hot CA sun for very little pay (agriculture has its own, different labor laws). I guess by Hervey’s thinking, God provided them, too.

      • The thing is, the advertisers have to target the decision makers – a.k.a. those who decide which trucks to buy.
        And indeed, it seems the Mexican laborers are not the ones deciding.

    • Donnar Party

      I suspect the demographic target is white males. Remember it’s an ad not a doc. The other reality not portrayed here is depressing: Monanto, ADM, migrant labor Grapes of Wrath stuff. No one wants buy a truck after seeing the reality.

      • Donnar Party

        I would also add that the target demo white males in reality are not farmers. They romanticize farming and what America was, or at least their perception of what it means to be American.

        • scott Rex Ely

          As someone who has to occassionally be patient behind a tractor hauling hay on a 2 lane, double yellow lined road, when I eventually get a break and get to go around everyone involved is white and male. My favorite on that road is the house accross the street from one of the farms that flies the Confederate Battle flag, the one with the pitbull image in the middle. Anectdotal I know, just sayin.

  9. Nice photos. Having lived in the Midwest most of my life and spending 5 years on my own acreage surrounded by bigger farms, I feel able to say that most of the farmers were older, all were male, and all were white. This was the demographic Dodge was aiming for.

  10. This is truly a tribute to the power of the still image. While there were many components that went into making this a moving and effective spot (the voice and narrative of Paul Harvey obviously), the still photography carried the day. I’m inspired and heartened by such a fine use of the medium!

  11. Justin,
    Yes. Same quote and recording. I think it’s even the same runtime. Just different images.

  12. A. Noninoni

    Thanks for posting this. It was pretty clear the images used in this ad came from multiple photographers. Good to know who. Congrats to all. It was a very good ad. So glad to see still images continue to have value.

  13. Some very nice images. Would have been nice to see a southern boy in a John Deere cap, but I guess we’re in Ford Country.

  14. Beautiful and moving images showcasing the power of imaging to do social good. Would have liked to have seen some attribution even though it is contrary to trade practice in advertising. The ad was unconventional so why not acknowledge the team that made it possible.

  15. Alistair Kerr

    I’ve never watched a Super Bowl in my life, born on the wrong continent I guess, but I’m so very glad to have seen this ad. I know a few farmers and this advert, with its strong striking images, its simple and poignant narration, really does sum up the strength, stamina and humanity of those I know.

  16. Everyone here keeps commenting on the power of still photography. But most of this isn’t still photography! Many of these images move in some way — either the Ken Burns pan, or a subtle zoom, or some effects that make the geese fly and the lens flare move. Even with such powerful images, the agency didn’t trust the power of the still.

    • Doesn’t make sense, Bob. The agency built a television commercial around still photographs. Can’t have anymore faith in still than that.

      • Oh, I’m definitely happy that they did it, and the ad certainly stood out for its lack of bombast. But why feel the need to add little gimmicky touches? Does having the birds flap their wings make that a better shot? I don’t think so.

        • It’d be weird and jarring without it. Television is a moving medium, there’s a reason for the existence of the “Ken Burns effect”. First rule of motion: keep it moving.

  17. Images that cut through the clutter.
    A soundtrack that wasn’t sweetened or autotuned.
    In short, a multi-million dollar slideshow that without question, was the best use of Super Bowl ad time. In a long time.
    On message. On target.
    People talking about a RAM truck commercial?
    Now that’s buzz.
    What a dream assignment!
    Kudos to all involved!

  18. I’m a garlic farmer in rural Quebec, and I keep my farm afloat with — still photography! You guessed it — I’m not rich, and I have dirt under my fingernails, but when I’m on assignment, I get to climb up the inside of 80m wind turbines to take photos from up top. It’s a great view!

  19. Michael Freitas

    Powerful , moving photography, really well done but those small time farmers barely exist anymore. Replaced by big ag industrial farming with their seed patents and million chicken hen warehouses. Also not to be a downer but 60% of farmland is now in persistent drought, 20% was in severe drought this past year and thanks to climate change it will be this way for the foreseeable future. If we really care about the farmers all those Dodge trucks should be plug-in diesel-electric vehicles.

    • DC Photographer

      ++1 My thoughts were exactly along these lines. yes, the ad is expertly produced, but it does not represent current farming reality. It’s all about nostalgia, the way things used to be….

      I’m sure it will help sell trucks.

    • Well said, Michael! During the commercial I was going through all the companies that would make an ad like that and my worst thought is that it would be for Monsanto (though I don’t think they advertise or need to).

  20. Very interesting how the biblical tale of creation of the world through god was used as a beacon in the story of the creation of the farmer.

    This ad showed morning moods, wide land, birds flying up, landscapes, faces full of dedication, showing the truck as a part of it instead of having it dominate everything.

    Illustrating core values, it made to final embrace from the farmer to “the farmer in all of us”.

    Core message: I get your world, I understand you. All of you.

    A standout of a sea of cynical and lobotomized ads:

    …not to riff on the product, but show the world of those who are supposed to buy it.

    This shows promise for future advertising: less hawking, but a more intelligent approach to win the hearts and minds of the audience through the means of empathy.

    • Donnar Party

      There are more intelligent ideas in agencies than most people can imagine. Most are killed off by Accounts or the clients before or even after production.

  21. I watched the game in a friend’s loft with about 45 other rowdy folks and when this ad appeared on the wall it was being projected upon, the entire room fell into a hushed silence and watched the entire thing. The two of us in the room that are photographers just looked at each other in awe, and then I nearly shed a tear. I grew up working on my grandfather’s farm and the spot made me miss the man.

    It was sentimental pandering for sure, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. And that it can’t be artfully done. Nice work all around.

  22. You are right, mirror mirror. They worked in collaboration to re-create the piece and to raise money for the FFA. There is even a note on the YouTube video about this collaboration. Apparently it is a recording made by Paul Harvey but it isn’t a quote because Harvey disclaimed authorship for the poem.

  23. Lorna Badgworthy

    “So God made a farmer” … America, sport, cars, religion, American history, the American Dream, male values, etc. Never mind the lack of diversity or female representation in the chosen photographers … that ad was about hiding from the fact that both farming and car production have to change if they are to survive from now on. And the photography, while beautiful, reinforced that.

    • It’s an Ad Lorna designed to attract a certain demographic who they know, after hundreds of hours and millions of dollars of marketing research, will be motivated after seeing the commercial will be inclined to buy their truck. The Ad is not a PBS documentary about the current state of the American Farmer.

  24. I think the spot worked as designed because its STILL being talked about, that is the goal of great advertising. It was a grand project, with a goal to REMIND us of the LAST American Archetype….the Farmer. None of the images from the spot were shot at any Mega Farms. Myself I DROVE 3400 miles finding images, I’m sure my story is tame compared to the other photographers.

    • Well said Andy. We all drove long distances (you the most) on this
      shoot, in freezing weather to capture the true essence of the farmer
      and the land. Kurt is in Africa and has yet to see the finished commercial
      but he will be proud like us all. Proud we got asked to shoot this
      wonderful project and proud that it was received well.

  25. I’ve been wondering who the photographers were that worked on this. Thanks for posting the list! Really showed the power of a photograph.

  26. It was mentioned above that most of the images are actually not stills. Well they were stills but a lot of them have a parallaxing effect and while very subtle, requires a lot of post production motion work. I think its a very nice touch and is what is adding a lot of the production value to the spot. It is done so well that most people, including, seasoned photographers didn’t even notice it.

  27. It’s a nice sentiment. However, I see right through it all, unlike most STUPID Americans. It’s nothing more that a car ad. PERIOD! …And it’s all about MONEY, GREED, and the people behind this commercial couldn’t give a shit about anyone who views it, only to buy a Ram….PERIOD. No female photog on the crew…really? Stop it already…

    • You should probably differentiate the agendas of the client and the artists practicing their craft.

      Boiling things down to black and white isn’t helping your opinion.

  28. Okay, for ALLL the haters out there and contrary to popular belief ALL of the images and the thousands that you did NOT see we’re shot on REAL farms and ranches. No mega farms. There was NO hidden agenda as to what to photograph but only to shoot what we felt compelled to. It was a FANTASTIC project for a AMERICAN ARCHETYPE. All the image makers worked EXTREMELY hard on this project and to help send a message. Im not at liberty to say what the this project will morph into, but RAM is NOT done with it. You all need to tone down and take your toys and go home.

    • Hell Andy let us ask the client if we can do “So God made a Photographer”
      next time, maybe that way all of the above save for a few
      exceptions that like our work can stop getting their knickers in a twist.

      • Fantastic job Andy, Maria, et al! For the sake of trying to be funny, maybe dodge can consider “So Goddess made a farmer” and it could be for a slighter smaller verson of the truck with female farmers and photographers?

        Really, can’t wait to see what comes next.

    • ANDY,

      I have been a fan of your work for a long time and we have people in common. I love it not because we are photographers. I love it simply because it is beautiful and helps us touch on our own humanity. Very envious of the photographers on this job, but well done and well deserved.

      Forget the ad world and listen to the sentiment.

    • Aside from the comments on the commercial, I love your work Andy. Monument valley images in particular. And Maria too. Great stuff on your websites.

    • Gross. What percentage of farms and farmers actually looks like this. If you move beyond the facade of this absurd romance you’ll find that 50% of farmworkers in america are immigrant workers with very little rights and very low wages. But of course this insular community would never want to burst the bubble of genius photographers who pat themselves on the back for a job well done selling a truck most farmers could not afford. Oh, but yes, it’s all about the archetype! So, so sorry that Monsieur Anderson cannot take a little social criticism, but you do work in the media business, so get over it.

      • Donnor Party

        I agree with you on the reality of farming in some parts of the country, but this isn’t the US Gov. funding Dorthea Lang to document the reality of farming. That would be a different brief, right? If Chrysler Corp. intended to make documentary piece laced with social commentary and critiscm it would have been shot in Mississippi, Florida and California’s Imperial Valley, and wouldn’t sell a single truck. That wasn’t the brief. The brief was more than likely to sell more trucks to white men between 25 – 70, actual farmers and guys who identify with what farmers represent. In that context, they knocked it out of the park.

  29. I too am a female advertising photographer (don’t let the name fool you) but instead of joining this convo in support of the sisterhood, I am taking a different view on it.

    It only make sene to hire male photographers for this. The product is a heavy duty pick up truck. The concept is about farming and the stewardship of the land. I think the pov from a woman would not have worked as well. This is the right call from where I sit and I don’t wish it had been done otherwise.

    It is a great piece of ad. What a daring play on The Richard’s Group!

  30. Great commercial. No doubt. And an assignment I’d love to have.

    Perhaps males were favored because of the subject matter. Male farmers might be more comfortable being followed by a man behind a camera and perhaps their wives as well.

    And obviously I need to check out the work of you guys who shot the ad because I don’t know your names at all. Need to get out of my Columbia, South Carolina bubble!

  31. This is targeted marketing. Clearly aimed at rural farmers who can afford the type of truck they are selling. If you don’t like that it doesn’t include a rainbow of people I’ve got some news for you – it wasn’t aimed at you. Get over it. I leaned a long time ago that if you don’t respond to an ad – it’s because you’re not the target. I experienced this first hand when I suddenly lived for a year without owning a car. The car commercials I lampooned so much suddenly – viscerally – made all the sense in the world. I craved a way to go see the world and that’s what car ads portray – a ticket to go explore. It all made sense. So once again, if you’re hating on this ad, it’s because it’s not meant for you. It’s not meant to try and change some grand social narrative. It’s meant to connect to a specific buyer, and you’re clearly not one of them. Get over it.

  32. Fascinating to read the impact of this wonderful spot. First of all, the sheer courage of the creatives to risk utilizing still images for TV, on the most expensive and extravagent stage we know of. To know that the spot would be shown right next to the most elaborate celebrity and special effects money could buy. Secondly, this assignment was not cast. I worked on this spot for weeks, traveling in zero degree weather, driving 3400 miles. The spot conveys what was out there, at least from the perspective of the what we saw over and over again. Yes we could have brought in all the politically correct “people” but this was real. Don’t hate the player hate the game.

  33. I think it also needs to be said, if you like these images, there were hundreds of incredible images that that were left on the editing floor. Career images for most photographers. But images that didn’t quite pay off Harvey’s glorious audio … What a project.

  34. Chris Berger

    It’s a very long time agp I’ve seen such a masterpiece!!!!
    Words are not enough to express tmy admiration for those who made this picture.
    Thnaks to God he made not just the farmer but also those photgraphers who showed us the farmer!
    \

  35. DC Photographer

    To the photographers who worked on the project: were you all briefed on what the final concept would be and that the Paul Harvey narrative would run on top of the images? Just wondering how that changed or did not change the images you made.

  36. Hello DC, yes we’re all briefed on the Paul Harvey words. That was our mantra. As for female photographers. We had hard time finding them, maybe we should have looked for midget, LBGT, Native American, female candidates. That way we cover catagory’s. you got any leads.

  37. Scott Bryant

    Hmmmm. I think the criticisms are valid. Worth hashing out.

    But the one thing that stands out, to me, is the fact that this ad has helped make it clear to an awful lot of folks that photography has real power in its ability to connect and generate discussion.

    And that charging photographers to go forth and just tell stories with their cameras, with little direction, is an effective approach.

    As some pointed out, there’s still an awful lot of stories out their yet to be told. But, from a photographer’s point-of-view, maybe this commercial might open up some doors and produce additional platforms in a profession where outlets and opportunities seem to continually shrinking. We’re always trying to sell editors, and audiences, and potential clients on the ability of photography to communicate something meaningful and convince them that it’s not a passe medium. Now we have something pretty concrete to point to as evidence.

    Just sayin’.