By Anne Telford
“When Firestone was first looking to update and invigorate their campaign, we invested in some very telling research with the farmers and ranchers who use ag tires every day. And the simple discovery was that they didn’t think about tires much at all, unless there was a problem,” says Walt Burns, creative director for Minneapolis-based Broadhead.
“[The agency] has a long history and deep understanding of the agriculture community, so we knew that even if farmers weren’t thinking foremost about their tires, the reliance on the equipment they used was critical to their success,” he continues.
Broadhead took those insights and ran with them. Burns explains that to make tires important to farmers, they needed to connect with farmers on a level that Firestone hadn’t done in decades. They needed to let farmers know that Firestone understood their passion for farming, their drive and dedication, their push to get the job done no matter what time pressures they were under. That Firestone was there with them. And that’s how Farm Hard was born.
“In a nutshell, Farm Hard means exactly what it sounds like,” Burns stresses. “Farmers push themselves, their equipment, their pocketbooks… all to get their work done while they can. And to bring the words ‘Farm Hard’ to life, we wanted to capture the authenticity of farmers in the field. No fluff, no bells and whistles, no Hollywood stand-ins. We wanted to capture the grit and the love that goes into the farm, and translate those emotions in photographs and video. That’s where Andy came in.”
Andy Anderson was a perfect fit for the project on several levels. “Having grown up in the farming world, I’m acutely aware of the enormous amount of hard work that goes into providing food that we’ll enjoy,” the Utah-based photographer says. “People don’t give much thought to what goes into this. This Farm Hard project was a little window into that world.”
Anderson’s photographs are as real as the dirt on a farmer’s boots, as authentic as the worn treads on a well-used tractor tire. There is nothing prettied up or extraneous in these images, they resonate because they capture the real emotion and connection that farmers have with the land that is the source of their livelihood and sometimes their curse.
Using natural light, and an uncanny ability to capture the perfect moment in time, Anderson has exceeded at depicting the American heartland in all its heartbreaking beauty and promise.
The agency’s client Firestone wrote this about Farm Hard recently, which is a good gauge for the campaign’s success: “Farm Hard represents many things. The first is the acknowledgement that farmers are the hardest working people you will ever meet. The second thing Farm Hard represents is a promise – of dependability and reliability. For 85 years, farmers have counted on Firestone to keep them up and running. Farm Hard acknowledges that promise – you can farm as hard as you need to, throw whatever you’ve got at our tires, and you won’t have to give them a second thought. Finally, we back up that Farm Hard promise with hard facts – an industry-leading nine-year warranty on our radial tires – as a promise of performance and support.”
It’s a fitting testament to Anderson’s ability to honestly convey the layered emotion of a lifelong dedication to growing the food that sustains a nation.