Dad Bashing in Monsanto’s America’s Farmers Superbowl Ad

First off, watch the “Begins With a Farmer” Monsanto advertisement that aired during the 2014 Superbowl:

Now, let’s talk about this ad because I think it’s awful and also rather confusing both. Awful because there are some inaccuracies and some really frustrating positioning of the male/female roles in a farm, and confusing because there are some puzzles, like why show two different farms in two different states if there are no differentiators between them?

The ad states that 96% of farms are independently owned. Yeah, but. But this, from the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture:

“U.S. farm production continues to shift to larger operations, while the number of small commercial farms and their share of farm sales continue a long-term decline. Larger farms have competitive advantages over smaller farms in most commodities, reflecting economies of size in farming… about 800,000 of the 2.2 million U.S. farms in 2007 were small commercial farm operations.”

Analyze the data and it’s clear that a small number of huge corporations (think Archer Daniels Midland or ConAgra) are consuming acreage, so they might just be one farm out of fifty, the overall acreage they own and crops they produce are far, far more than 1/50th of production for an area. So, kind of a whitewash to suggest that farming is “almost all little independent farms”.

But what bothers me a lot more about that ad is the idea that farms are run by Mom, and that it’s Mom who stays home and manages the household and nurtures the children. It’s the 21st Century, Monsanto (and, presumably, its ad agency McCormick, though I don’t know for sure that they created the Superbowl ad) and these gender roles are inaccurate.

“… are family owned, which means on the farm the CEO is usually referred to as Mom.”

The ad shows one happy rural family and one suburban family where there’s a mom and kids. But no Dad. In the rural half, the Mom’s doing the tiniest bit of farm work in a barn for about two seconds. But where’s Dad in this picture? My guess: he’s out actually managing the farm and making the farm as a business work. Or perhaps Mom is. Or they are as a team, splitting up their workload so that, yes, some days Dad’s home and helping the kids with homework or making dinner while Mom’s taking care of the cows or tilling the back forty, and other days it’s vice-versa.

The ad ends showing the rural Mom, the children and Dad (hey! there is a man on the farm, but he’s obviously not the CEO) in front of their farm house. But why not have an advertisement that plucks on the mythology of the idyllic rural farm and shows a couple that’s managing to balance their roles and shows equality in their relationship and responsibilities? Why have Mom or Dad be CEO, for that matter? Why not co-CEOs?

Perhaps it’s just poor timing because I just this morning returned from the Dad 2.0 Summit, attended by 250 men and women eager to help redefine male/female roles in society so that men can be stay-at-home or primary caregivers without it being considered weird or unusual. Fact is, it’s far more common than you think anyway.

The problem is, the media hasn’t quite caught up, and this advert from Monsanto is a perfect example.

That’s why this America’s Farmers ad from Monsanto gets my vote for worst ad of the 2014 Superbowl broadcast.

14 comments on “Dad Bashing in Monsanto’s America’s Farmers Superbowl Ad

  1. They actually ran two ads that feature dads as well. The side by side is supposed to compare suburban moms to farm moms, not to slight the dads. This one: and this one as well: While I agree that the commercials definitely still have some gender stereotyping in them, when you consider the full spectrum of their messaging for this campaign I think you will see that they are not really leaving Dad out, or acting like he is not a vital part of the family, nurturing the kids and managing the farm.

    • Thanks for sharing those. They might be part of the campaign, but I didn’t see Monsanto pay to run those during the Superbowl, so I’m not sure that they do relate to what I’m discussing, since my point is that *during the game* the ad was weirdly and disappointingly anti-Dad.

      • I did not get that read at all! I am super pro dad, as a matter of fact, when I was twelve the choice was given to me as to whom I wished to live with, and I chose dad. It was a choice and a relationship I still cherish. I believe in parent and gender equality on all fronts. This was simply a old boys network trying to show two moms, one in suburbia, and one on a farm, “planting” good things for their families with guidance and love. Crap on many levels from a horrendous, opportunistic, planet and people poisoning company…not anti-dad.

        When I see an add with dad on a ball field, as a coach, or as a supporter, I don’t think…where’s mom? Is this anti-mom? Yes dads often get an unfair shake in the courts, classrooms, and societies perception at large, both of their abilities and rights. Agreed. Here is not, to my perceptive powers, a smash down on dads. Sorry pop.

  2. The other ads did run during the game. I think which ad ran was determined by city but all three ads were seen in different parts of the country.

    • Well, Judy, I can only respond to the ad I saw, and that’s what I’ve done. Makes me wonder how they decided which advert to run in which territory… and how do you know that all three ran, by the way?

      • Hi Dave, thank you for expressing your concerns about the America’s Farmers advertising. I work at Monsanto (and on this campaign) and I’m very sorry that our ad struck you as offensive. Unfortunately you saw only one of our 3 ads and the story about the America’s farm family was left incomplete for you. We did air 3 different advertisements in different regions (one per region). Our goal is to celebrate the American farm family and every member of that family. Fathers play an important role in any family, whether it’s on a farm, in the office, or at home and I apologize that it seemed we ignored this in the advertisement you saw. I’d invite you to visit our website ( or our YouTube channel where you can meet the farm families (all of the farmers in our commercials are real farmers) and learn about their family and farm:

        If you have any more questions please let me know and I can either answer them here or via email. I also run our America’s Farmers blog and if you have any ideas about how we can better represent the role of fathers on our website I’d love to see if I can accommodate them.

        • Thanks for your response, Kate. I appreciate that you and your team are reaching out. I have since learned that you have three ads in your America’s Farmers campaign, but since you only choose to run one of them in the Denver market that was obviously the only one I got to see. And that was the basis of my reaction. My question is more about why differentiate mother/father roles in the first place, given that modern families can have the mom working and the dad at home with the kids, the dad cooking, two dads sharing the work, a single parent, etc. I’d encourage your team to look at the census data on modern family units, whether rural, suburban or in the city: it might not be quite as you are portraying…

          • I’ll take that advice to heart. Thank you again for expressing your opinion freely, the only way to improve and grow our advertisements is to listen to comments like yours. Feel free to drop me an email should you ever have a question or you can always use our contact us form on the site if you have suggestions on how we might improve our site and the portrayal of America’s farm families.

  3. It really doesn’t matter what Monsanto does or doesn’t think of dad. While I get the commercial is trying to compare two types of moms in different settings, the reason you didn’t see dad when the kids ran out of the house, is because his ass was up two hours before that sucking down some coffee and going to work. In the dark.

    The real problem I see with these ads is this: Moms are very easy to control using emotions. Yeah, I said it. And I’m not being gender-biased either. Because Dads are very easy to control using explosions and boobies. BUT, food companies have been doing this for ages. McDonald’s took a ton of moms through the process of how their fries get made. (Not the burgers…dear God, they don’t want ANYONE seeing that.) So this way, moms could say, “These are the healthiest fried potatoes I’ve ever seen. McDonalds really DOES care about my family!”

    Monsanto is poisoning our food supply with their GMO-filled garbage and they are doing it by killing the very farms they are touting in this commercial. So, you’ll have to pardon my French but, fuck Monsanto and EVERYTHING they stand for.

  4. The commercial is a slap in the face. Making their product GMO which is destroying Un modified plants and food sources look warm and fuzzy farm life. They don’t tell you they sue farmers for their crops being contaminated by Monsanto crops. When we have no more fish/animal and one tree left then we will realize we shouldn’t mess with mother nature.

  5. This ad was the only one I saw in Denver as well. It was by far the worst ad shown during the Superbowl. I also wondered what their motive was in connecting CEO with Mom and left Dad out completely until the end. My marketing background tells me they are desperately and ineffectively trying to clean up their image…sort of like putting wrapping paper on an outhouse to camouflage what it is. Monsanto is a pariah on world sustainability!

  6. I love that “Katie” was happy to address the gender role issue but not the huges issue that Monsanto is suing real farms and killing us off with their GMOs while trying to make it look like they support little farms and people. Irony at its best.

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