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.