Our family is irrationally attached to the Run for the Roses. Willing to be drawn into the romance and human interest of horse racing and clear-eyed about the drawbacks of the sport, we prepare for the event for months—reading racing journalism, debating dosage, declaring devotion to one 3-year-old or another.

No surprise, we watch the broadcast entranced—looking for clues that we may have missed, hanging on the glimpses of the thoroughbreds, mining for clues to preparedness or a case of nerves.  The commercials during the proceedings? Annoyances at best. Irritations or worse most of the time.

So when the TV spot featuring a woman farmer began, we were marking time until the pundits returned. But there was something about the spade in the dirt, the look on her face. Then came the surprise: The John Deere dealer was bringing a tractor to this fictional female farmer, showing her only a bit about how to operate it before it became a tool in her capable hands.  In 30 seconds, we were brought into the world of a strong and determined contradiction in our society … a woman validated as legitimate in a man’s world. A woman taming a piece of land on her own. A woman in jeans and a T-shirt for practical reasons, not objectified into breasts and ass.

My 17-teen-year-old, normally intent on demonstrating her superior perceptions about horse flesh, said quietly, “That was great.” I agreed and paused for a silent prayer of thanks.

I began my writing life as an advertising copywriter in 1969. To have created a commercial like that would have been unthinkable. To wish with every fiber of my being that something like it would someday happen was as much a part of my quest in that job as breathing was in my life.

Whoever is in charge of the John Deere ad account within the company deserves praise beyond any that has been given in advertising circles for the “Love Your Land” commercial. The team at the ad agency for Deere deserves the respect of their peers and the gratitude of women everywhere.

John Deere must know, as we do, that women make virtually all the significant household buying decisions. Still, though many companies know that fact, they don’t produce television commercials that reflect it.

What we celebrate when we congratulate John Deere for running a powerful, believable, joyful spot featuring a woman buying a tractor she is clearly going to ride is the understanding that women are capable of running things—farms and tractors included.

It made me wish I had need for a tractor. I would indeed run to a John Deere dealer to vote with my pocketbook in thanks for a job well done and a reality well respected. A farm equipment company spotlighting women. Now that’s a horse of a different color and a beautiful one indeed.

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  • Angel May 13, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    i am so proud of John Deere for having the guts to make this commercial!

  • dr pat allen May 9, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I just returned from Kentucky, home of the Derby but mostly home to farms and farmers. I know many women who know how to use big farm equipment, once reserved for the men only. And, I know women who run farms by themselves or with a tenant farmer or grown children. Brenda is a nurse in Bowling Green, Kentucky and works with one of Mommie’s doctors. She is also a full time dairy farmer. Dairy farming gives a new meaning to the term “full time”. Cows have to be milked morning and night, 365 days a year. Brenda not only runs her farm with two teenage children but she is getting married to a farmer she met at an agriculture event. He lives in Georgia but is selling his farm and moving his cows and equipment north to live on Brenda’s farm. Can you imagine how rare this story is?

    Loved the ad and loved Laura’s understanding of the creativity and risk it took on the part of both John Deere and their ad agency to design this important television spot.