Dodge's Super Bowl Ad Receives Backlash For Using Martin Luther King Speech
Last night during the Super Bowl a commercial from Ram Trucks aired that included a speech from Martin Luther King, Jr.
We are all built to serve, but it takes will and courage to do what's right. Tell us how you aid your community with #RamBuiltToServe and watch our Big Game moments here: https://t.co/MNjwAXYmXw #SBLII pic.twitter.com/BcWTZectHq
— RamTrucks (@RamTrucks) February 5, 2018
The speech, “The Drum Major Instinct,” was one of the iconic civil rights leader’s last addresses, made exactly 50 years ago (Super Bowl Sunday was the 50th anniversary of the sermon). However, the commercial wasn’t well-received, with viewers calling out the ad for being tasteless and using a King speech to sell their trucks.
The King family has vehemently defended MLK's likeness, voice, speeches, etc. FOR DECADES. To hear him now… on an ad… to sell… trucks…. is unsettling.
— April (@ReignOfApril) February 5, 2018
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) February 5, 2018
Can I just say, that Dodge Ram ad which used the amazingly inspirational words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during Black History Month just to sell their product rubbed me the absolute wrong way. Not cool. Who agrees? #SuperBowl
— Ricky Davila (@TheRickyDavila) February 5, 2018
Others also noted that the ad wouldn’t have been something King approved of, considering he once said that “The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism,” in a speech to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967.
However, it seems that the MLK estate approved of the speech’s inclusion in the ad, according to a report from Slate.
Eric D. Tidwell, the managing director of Intellectual Properties Management, Inc., which is the “exclusive licensor” of the estate of the famed activist, issued the following statement to the publication:
“When Ram approached the King Estate with the idea of featuring Dr. King’s voice in a new ‘Built To Serve’ commercial, we were pleasantly surprised at the existence of the Ram Nation volunteers and their efforts. We learned that as a volunteer group of Ram owners, they serve others through everything from natural disaster relief, to blood drives, to local community volunteer initiatives. Once the final creative was presented for approval, it was reviewed to ensure it met our standard integrity clearances. We found that the overall message of the ad embodied Dr. King’s philosophy that true greatness is achieved by serving others. Thus we decided to be a part of Ram’s ‘Built To Serve’ Super Bowl program.”
“Estate representatives were a very important part of the creative process,” a representative from Ram Trucks told Slate, while adding that the company “worked closely with the representatives of the Martin Luther King Jr. estate to receive the necessary approvals.”
Following the airing of the ad Bernice King, MLK’s daughter, distanced herself from the ad.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) February 5, 2018
The Twitter account for the King Center, the nonprofit created by MLK’s wife Coretta Scott King also spoke out against the ad.
“Neither the King Center nor Bernice King is the entity that approves the use of MLK’s words or imagery for use in merchandise, entertainment (movies, music, artwork, etc) or advertisement, including tonight’s Dodge Super Bowl commercial,” the tweet read.