The Super Bowl has aired its share of controversial commercial ads over the years, but this one was of a different variety. Fans watching the Philadelphia Eagles face off against the New England Patriots on Super Bowl Sunday caught a 30-second Dodge Ram commercial that was apparently meant to evoke patriotism through its use of a Dr. Martin Luther King speech.
But most folks weren’t feeling it and Ram Trucks has issued a response.
Airing on Sunday, Feb. 4, the 50th anniversary of King’s “The Drum Major Instinct” speech, the truck advertisement used portions of the speech as images of blue-collar Americans, a dog rescue and a soldier hugging his son were spliced between Ram trucks driving through the terrain.
All of this as King began, “If you want to be important, wonderful. If you want to be recognized, wonderful. If you want to be great wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.”
It didn’t sit well with fans.
“That was a disrespectful Ram commercial esp during #BlackHistoryMonth,” someone tweeted.
Another put it in a more visceral way.
“I want to punch that Dodge Ram commercial in the face.”
“Are you kidding me?” a tweet read. “This #RAM commercial cannibalizing an MLK sermon to try and sell trucks is a f—— disgrace. #SuperBowl.”
Me after that MLK Dodge Ram commercial pic.twitter.com/3TEVZgtvaZ
— The Duke of Golden (@KillaKam1947) February 5, 2018
— NUFF (@nuffsaidny) February 5, 2018
Yet Ram Trucks says it worked closely with King’s estate to create the ad.
“Their representatives were a very important part of the creative approval process every step of the way,” the statement released in the early hours of Monday, Feb. 5 read.
Intellectual Properties Management Inc. Eric D. Tidwell, managing director of the organization which handles King’s speeches and intellectual property, added the following.
“We found that the overall message of the ad embodied Dr. King’s philosophy that true greatness is achieved by serving others,” the statement from the late King’s son, Dexter King, said. “Thus we decided to be a part of Ram’s ‘Built To Serve’ Super Bowl program.”
— Ram Trucks (@RamTrucks) February 5, 2018
The King Center tweeted earlier that Dexter King’s sister, Bernice King, nor the center itself controls the use of the civil rights martyrs words or likeness for such things.
Neither @TheKingCenter nor @BerniceKing 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 #SuperBowl commercial.
— The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center (@TheKingCenter) February 5, 2018