Ram tough: Allard made a Super Bowl commercial

Out of nowhere, longtime National Geographic photographer and Afton resident William Albert Allard got a phone call from California about a month ago– about making a Super Bowl commercial.

"This is the best kind," says Allard of the phone call pitch. "Someone admired my work."

The plan was to send 10 noted photographers out to shoot the two-minute "Farmer" spot, based around deceased radio broadcaster Paul Harvey's "So God Made a Farmer" speech. Chrysler aired the Harvey-narrated commercial during the fourth quarter of the longest-ever Super Bowl February 3.

"It's all been very top secret," says Allard the day after the 49ers/Ravens battle.

Allard spent seven days shooting in Montana and California. "Obviously it wasn't the best time of year to be shooting farming," he points out.

Out of the 25 photos he counted during the commercial, three were Allard's work: a close-up portrait of a man, a saddled horse, and a family saying grace at the dinner table.

The photographers didn't have the Harvey script, says Allard– although Harvey gave the speech in 1978 at a Future Farmers of America convention.

"This was done very, very quickly," says Allard. "I was sending in work as I was doing it. The final edit wasn't decided on until Wednesday or Thursday. Nothing leaked out."

Allard's work has appeared in National Geographic for nearly 50 years, even after the iconic mag cut its photography staff in 2008. "I'm 75– it's a very physical job," he says. "I'm more into writing these days."

He's published six books of his photographs, but notes that the Super Bowl "was certainly the biggest audience I've ever had."    

The Dodge Ram brand has declared 2013 the "year of the farmer," and the assignment appealed to Allard, who doesn't do a lot of commercial work. "I'm close to the subject– rural America," he says. "This was a documentary approach– and it pays very well."

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6 comments

Thank you, Mr. Allard, for documenting our vanishing nation.

It was the best, most moving, and poignant ad of the Super Bowl--classy, told a story, made you think.

So grateful Mr. Allard decided to share his mind's eye with all of us, through his brilliant work...

The commercial was powerfull, you cannot help yourself from watching it more than once, at least I could not.

I am even more greatful now that I see somebody close to home helped make it happen.

My hats off to you Mr. Allard...

Somebody has to grow worms :) , Somedays I have no idea why I am doing what I am doing, God put me here to be a comedian or a clown... I have tried everything I think , but never wandered far from my comfort zone.

Farming pays the least Money I have ever made....for the amount of work required for a return on my investment.

I go to bed every night for once in my life I know exactly what makes me happy when I hit the floor at 3:30 am or 8 on Sunday if I can get away with it .

I love to farm , knowing me I might be selling cars next week , but as long as I am able, the bills are paid and the family is fed.

I am going keep on Farming.

Thank you, Bill!