Built around a 1978 Paul Harvey tribute at a Future Farmers of America convention, the ad shunned common big-game ad tactics of big music, big effects and big hype. It wasn't even released to generate pre-game publicity in the days leading up to the event like so many of its competitors were.
One of the reasons the spot won, I believe, is because it broke the mold of "dream sequence extravaganzas". You know the formula--some type of plot line is established, followed by an expensive montage of crazy scenes, then back to the setup for resolution and a wrap. Many advertisers followed the formula this year, including Tide, Kia, Oreo, Got Milk?, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz, and some of their commercials scored quite well. But they didn't nab the top spot despite their big ambitions.
In a recent Businessweek.com column entitled "Ten Marketing Lessons from Super Bowl Ads" I included advice like "strike an emotional chord", "reward engagement" and "keep it simple". I also recommended that companies invest in production values; while Dodge didn't spend big money on locations, lighting, and music, the company did commission ten notable photographers to capture magnificent scenes. That wasn't cheap, but it was the right place to invest the dough.
I think what impressed me most was that Dodge respected rule #1, "put strategy first." Not only did the company win the hearts of city dwellers by tipping its hat to "the farmer in all of us", but having declared 2013 "the year of the farmer" the brand paid powerful homage to its core target audience.
Thanks to its Super Bowl ad effort, 2013 may also be the year of Ram Trucks.
Steve McKee is president of McKee Wallwork + Company, and author of When Growth Stalls and Power Branding. A marketing strategist for nearly three decades, Steve has been published or quoted in many top news outlets and industry publications, and writes a monthly marketing column for Businessweek.com.