Words, Pictures, And A Place We Ache To Go Again
By Jim Mundorf
If I had a list of places I could revisit in my life my Grandma Lorretta's kitchen would be at the top. They bought the house along with the farm in the 1940's after Grandpa had returned from the war. My Dad farmed with my Grandpa all through my childhood, and as a little guy, I spent quite a bit of time at Grandma's house in the kitchen. I remember that kitchen. I remember every inch of it and could tell you today where everything was. I can see it now sparkling clean and not a thing out of place. I can see her zipping around it, cooking and cleaning, doing dishes. Grandpa would come in at noon. You could set a clock by it. He would take off his overalls in the entryway and put on a clean pair of pants, so as not to stink up the place with whatever animal he'd been working around that morning. He would wash up and sit down to the meal that she had spent the morning preparing. A farmer and his wife exactly as you might imagine them. If I try I can still see it, and I can hear it, in the background the radio is playing KMA 960 AM and Paul Harvey is telling me to, "stand by for news."
My Grandparents had been gone for years in 2013, and so had their house. So when I sat down to watch the Super Bowl they and their kitchen could not have been further from my mind. There I sat like everyone does ready to be entertained by the best the football and advertising worlds had to offer. Then, like a vision, there was a scene that looked just like home, a cow in an open field.... and then there was a voice... Paul Harvey. All of sudden I was back in Grandma's kitchen with a giant lump in my throat. Mr. Harvey went on to describe my Grandpa word for word and tell me exactly why God had made him and the lump in my throat just grew and grew. "A commercial?" I thought as I choked down the lump. Words and pictures showed up during the super bowl and sent me straight back to Grandma's kitchen. Words and pictures arranged in one of the most powerful ways I had ever seen. A stinking commercial!
How could a commercial, made up of a voice, words, and pictures, create such a connection? In the TV series Mad Men, 1960's Advertising Creative Director Don Draper describes the deepest bond that can be created. "In Greek, nostalgia literally means, the pain from an old wound. Its a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone...It takes us to a place where we ache to go again...To a place where we know we are loved." Its a known tactic in the advertising world. When the folks at the Richards Group Ad Agency and Dodge partnered up, it was like they took Don Draper's words and created a commercial specifically designed for me. It checked all the boxes, created a twinge in my heart, took me to a place where I ached to go again, a place where I knew I was loved, but that was just me. How many other people could have been taken to that place by Paul Harvey's voice, words and pictures? As I choked down the lump in my throat, I doubted very many others felt that connection... I couldn't have been more wrong.
For the ad, Dodge also partnered with the FFA, Future Farmers of America. The Paul Harvey speech that was used, was recorded at the 1978 FFA convention. Dodge agreed to donate $100,000 per million views on YouTube, with a goal/cap of 1 million dollars. A day later the ad had been viewed 5 million times and by the end of the week they had their 10 million views. It topped many lists that rate the years ads. It had the most social media mentions following the super bowl. Now 5 years later it is seen as one of the best Super Bowl ads of all time.
Agriculture is in all of us. No matter where you are from, if you follow your roots back far enough you will find someone who grew or raised something to eat. I like to say that my families been farming in this part of the country for 5 generations, but my farming roots can be traced back to Adam. Actually, it was Eve that was picking apples during the first harvest. Whenever I hear that prostitution is the worlds oldest profession, I say that them whores had to eat something. Truth is there was a farm or a ranch in many families just a couple generations ago, and even if you've only heard stories about it, even if you never visited, you have seen the pictures and heard the words. You know that it is in your blood and for many it is still a place, "where we ache to go again."
5 Years Later
What the commercial proved is that words and pictures can connect people with agriculture. What the response proved is that, that is a place, "where we ache to go again." I thought a lot about the commercial during the days after it aired, what it had accomplished an proven. How some pictures and words could reach out and connect with almost everyone who saw it. I wondered if others would take note. I hoped that the commercial had proven something. I hoped that maybe it was the start of something. I hoped that I would soon be seeing more words and pictures. I thought that it would maybe awaken the people in the media to the power of agriculture and the connection people have to it. Unfortunately, I think it might have.
The people in the media. I know them. I studied to become one. Some of them are people who've been taught, and firmly believe that agriculture and the people involved with it are what is wrong with the world. They look toward the rural areas and they want to see the way of life destroyed. For some of the people who work in the media and advertising worlds, the success of the commercial must've been awful upsetting. I don't know if it actually awakened, or motivated those people. What I do know is that now, 5 years after the commercial aired, the movement to villainize the people of agriculture is stronger than it has ever been, and its working. People are losing their connection to agriculture. The lies and myths told about farmers and ranchers are more widespread than ever, and those lies are being accepted as facts. Cattle are wrongly blamed for destroying the environment. Meat and GMO's are wrongly blamed for health issues. Veganism and vegetarianism is growing rapidly in popularity. Animal rights and environmental activists, who want to see agriculture as we know it destroyed, have gained power, money, and influence. They are working very hard, every day to remove the connection people have with agriculture and replace it with lies.
In the Mad Men episode where Don Draper describes nostalgia, he is talking to the people from Kodak who are looking to advertise their new invention, the slide projector. The men from Kodak want to focus on the technology, but he has a different idea, nostalgia. In his pitch he tells them, "This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, forwards, takes us to a place where we ache to go again." The same can be said about the what you're looking at right now. For most the technology of the internet, "isn't a spaceship, its a time machine." Its used for words and pictures that take us to times and places we want to go. We look at it because for whatever reason its better than looking at where we are.
A stockbroker in New York can sit at his desk and watch a calf being born in Wyoming, cattle being herded in Canada or New Mexico, cotton being planted in Texas, corn being harvested in Iowa. These are things people want to see and places where they ache to go again. Finding it can be a challenge. Often times when you do find it, it is on social media, sharing a screen with a stupid selfie or an insane political rant. There are extremely talented people on social media who take there followers to a place they ache to go. My goal is to bring them here. A website to be used as their gallery that they don't have to maintain. One site with no clutter that can take people to the Lonesome Lands. Words, and pictures, that will take you to the places you ache to go again.
Don Draper on nostalgia