Three Things Unacknowledged About Dodge’s Superbowl Commercial

During the second half of the superbowl, Dodge released a commercial advertising the ‘Farmer in all of us.’

Instantly, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Blogs, and almost every other social media platform exploded with responses. People loved the commercial. People hated the commercial. People loved the commercial, but they hated the backers. People hated the exploitation of farmers, but they loved the photographs. People hated the US Goverment’s involvement in the modern dismantling of family farms. People hated that ranchers and farmers were not distinguished. People love Paul Harvey’s words from a 1978 Farmer’s Convention.

All in all, Dodge accomplished their goal: this commercial is one of the most talked about commercials from last night.

Why did this video quiet rooms across our nation? Why were these images able to convey passion, power, humility, longing for better days?

I want to touch on three things most blogs/tweet/posts will not cover:

  1. Ethos
  2. Pathos
  3. Logos

Chrysler’s video utilizes the three means of persuasion that Aristotle introduces to us in On Rhetoric. Why should you even care that they used three things a Greek philosopher wrote about in a book a couple thousand years old?


Because without these three things, your speeches, blogs, Facebook posts, papers, conversations, arguments will fail. These three Greek ideas offer insight into every single powerful political speech you have heard.

Presidents uses them.
Motivational speakers use them.
Therapists & counselors use them.
Teachers should use them.
Poets use them.
Musicians use them.
Artists use them.
Authors use them.
Foreign ministers use them.
Salesmen use them.

Ethos is the appeal to credibility. Why should you build credibility between you and your audience? Let me ask you a question, do you believe someone who constantly lies? Are you likely to trust someone known to scheme? NO! Dodge establishes credibility first, and foremost, by using Paul Harvey’s voice. He is the radio voice of the 20th century. I cannot tell you how many countless hours I heard him growing up saying the words, “And now you know, the rest of the story.” By establishing credibility with the audience, you have established trust.

Pathos is the appeal to emotion. Why should you appeal to someone’s emotions? They constantly change. They may be volatile. They might even cause your audience to hate you. But with the right appeal, you may build empathy with your audience. The commercial shows small churches, big farms, broken fingernails (the nails of someone who gives their all to their work), a family around the table, and countless other images. But Paul Harvey’s words strike a  powerful chord, ‘God said, “I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, ‘Maybe next year.‘” Have you ever lost anything? Known someone that has died? Known grief and tears? Watched something you love wither before your eyes? Right there, you have been caught: hook, line, and sinker.

Logos is the appeal to logic. This is probably the most obviously important of the three. In a world who loves reason, you must logically walk your audience through your work. Chrysler begins the commercial with, “And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.” So God made a farmer. They present a problem and give a solution. The video refers America back to her roots. Most of the people viewing this have never been on a farm, but they eat the fruits of the farm everyday. Harvey outlines a list of problems. Their answer? The farmer.

Aristotle’s three means of persuasion give everyman the ability to convince and move their audience.

You may not agree with the commercial. You may not agree with Harvey’s words. You may not even think the commercial sells the product well.

But, this video is powefully persuasive and moving. Don’t just take my word for it, look at the closing line of the video. What do you think?

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  1. RuthAnne Talley says:

    This is wonderful!!!!

  2. Very effective commercial. Well done and will be well remembered. Even Dodge coming in with the simple Dodeg Ram tag at the end is something that stays with you because this ad draws you in and in the end you find out who sponsored this ad and bam, you say, oh, Dodge Ram, great message. They touched on our heart strings and as we struggle and work to keep our county and our freedoms and our Republic what is more memorable than two things, the farmer and the solider. Dodge hit it out of the ballpark.

  3. BTW, the Ethos, Pathos and Logos article hits the message right on. Well done Thom!

  4. Sherri Clark says:

    Excellent points, Thom. I am so glad you are teaching our students! What is striking me is knowing who owns Dodge and how they have been able to stay alive leaves one without wonder that they would need to come up with something this persuasive to bring back the fold-the demographic they must have to survive. So, in that regard, they were absolutely brilliant. But, I think the team that put this brilliant piece together may have just gotten “lucky” to benefit from Harvey’s use of logic in his speech which distracts one from the illogical premise. Thinking people know it is not logical to pay tribute to the average American farmer with a product the farmer can’t afford or isn’t interested in because of the government bailouts or the sell-out to foreign companies. I’d believe they meant what they said and even by the biggest truck they sell if they had ended the commercial with, “And to prove we mean what we say, we are offering 1/2 off of any sticker price on any Dodge product sold in America to all farmers. Thank you for making us who we are and keeping American families strong.” I expect many a patriotic American, though, was moved as is to borrow money and buy one.

    • Thank you for your thoughts, Sherri. I had not looked at it quite like that. I agree with your thoughts.

      I read a review today that stated Dodge is trying to get back in Chevy’s position as the “American” truck.


  1. […] commercials, songs and find the three things I wrote about after last year’s superbowl: Three Things Unacknowledged About Dodge’s Superbowl Commercial. This year, I want to deviate away from Aristotle’s Ethos, Pathos, and Logos and turn towards […]

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