Tuesday, December 31, 2013


(from forbes.com)

Chrysler took care of some unfinished business late in the year with the publication of a new photography book with National Geographic, titled The Farmer In All of Us: An American Portrait.

Specifically, the automaker did so by including about 16 images in the book, out of a total of about 144 relevant images, that were identifiably non-white farm operators and agricultural workers.

The book is a partial answer to the one thing that really bugged some people about Chrysler’s “So God Made a Farmer” TV ad for its Ram truck that appeared in Super Bowl XLVII in February. Amid all the acclaim for the spot both immediately and, even now, in favorite-ad lists for 2013, there was a complaint that the commercial didn’t reflect the true racial and ethnic diversity of the American agricultural landscape.

The ad simply didn’t depict enough black, Hispanic or Asian farmers or ag workers, this argument went, and focused almost entirely on white subjects.

After the game, Chrysler pleaded that the charge was unfair given how few still images actually made up the 60-second TV ad; and, after all, there had to be time to show off the Ram.

The company also said that an upcoming coffee-table book — selecting and presenting the best of hundreds of photos that were taken by 10 highly decorated professional photographers — would answer this objection by reflecting the entirety of the ethnic makeup of the American farm community.

Chrysler just published the book, which is available online for $45 and will be in retail stores beginning in late spring of 2014. And indeed, of the roughly 144 images of individuals or groups in the 300-page book where an apparent ethnicity either can be presumed by a photo of a face and/or body parts, or is identified by name, 16 of them apparently feature black and Hispanic people.

There also is a huge sampling of women in the book and, for that matter, a handful of kids — including one on the cover. A total of more than 240 photos adorn the book.

So consider this a good-faith effort by Chrysler to reflect the growing diversity of the ever-changing American agricultural sphere both in the original execution of the photography and in the creative work on the book that followed.

To be sure, self-appointed watchdogs have some ground to stand on if they still want to criticize this high-quality, supremely produced volume. For while “white male principal operators” comprised about 83 percent of the 2.2 million farms identified by the U.S. Census of Agriculture in 2007, or about 1.83 million Americans, the percentage of apparent images of white subjects in the Farmer book was about 89 percent.

And, further, there were no discernibly Asian individuals depicted in the book. For that matter, there was only one possibly Hispanic photographer who contributed.

Still, upon digesting the tome and re-appreciating the Paul Harvey paean to farmers that inspired the moving Super Bowl commercial as well as the book, it’s difficult to argue with the introduction which states that the book “celebrates the values of dignity, fellowship, and sacrifice through hard work.” And on the American farm, that applies to everyone.