Griggsville family to be part of Illinois Farm Families commercial for Super Bowl LVII

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GRIGGSVILLE, Ill. — Millions of eyes from around the world will be watching Super Bowl LVII — and the commercials — on Sunday. 

Five-year-old Bennett Willard of Griggsville doesn’t care much that he will be in one of those commercials.

“I’m not sure he understands it,” Brock Willard, Bennett’s father, said with a laugh. “The Farm Week (a weekly agriculture magazine) came yesterday, and it had a picture of (the family) in there, so I showed it to him. He didn’t seem too interested in that either.”

Willard and his family — his wife, Nicole, and his children Bennett and Archer — are featured in a commercial for Illinois Farm Families, a coalition of farming associations from around the state that teaches people how farmers grow food. The commercial is part of a series for the coalition’s “We Are The 96” campaign raising awareness about the 96 percent of farms in Illinois that are family-owned.

Brock Willard, center, holds his son, Archer, on his family farm in Griggsville in October. Also in the photo are his wife, Nicole; his son, Bennett; and his grandfather, Philip Bradshaw. | Photo courtesy of Brock Willard

Willard believes the commercial will air during the first half of the game.

“It’s an exciting deal,” he said. “I’m very excited to use the message, ‘We Are The 96.’ That’s my biggest hope. It’s a very concise message to our consumers that we aren’t a bunch of big corporate farms. Our family is not different than the families who will be watching.”

Willard farms with his grandfather, Philip Bradshaw, and his uncle, Todd Bradshaw. He is a fifth-generation farmer, and they farm about 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans. They also operate a hog farm in Griggsville.

“We’ve assembled a fairly long history here in Pike County and Adams County,” Willard said.

Willard represents District 12 — which covers Pike, Calhoun, Scott, Greene, Jersey and Macoupin counties — on the Illinois Soybean Board, which approached him in October about the commercial.

“They were looking for people to take some pictures and stuff, and they asked me,” he said. “I said I was OK with that, but they didn’t say it was for a Super Bowl commercial at that time. They took some pictures of us as a family, and we were cutting soybeans that day, so they shot some video with me and Ben in the combine.

“I was pretty shocked we’re doing a Super Bowl ad to start with.”

The Willards are among more than 25 families from throughout the state who were filmed for the campaign. The “We Are The 96” campaign will continue through June.

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