Ram Trucks borrowed parts of a speech from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in their latest ad which premiered during Sunday’s Super Bowl LI. Despite the backlash the commercial invited, the manager of the King estate defended the questionable promo.
In the ad by the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brand, a 50-year-old speech by the late civil rights icon is played as actors depict themselves performing acts of service. While the concept of connecting the civil rights leader to car promotion is intrinsically strange in and of itself, the internet wasn’t too happy with the disrespectful irony of it all. The company claims the King Estate approved of the commercial.
King’s “Drum Major Instinct” speech contains contains an anti-capitalist message. The first half of the speech about servicing one’s community. The second-half is a blatant condemnation of capitalism:
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. That’s a new definition of greatness. … By giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great. … You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know the theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love.
Statement from the Drum Major Institute on the Dodge Ram #SuperBowl commercial using Dr. King’s speech: pic.twitter.com/gm2MZzSJfN
— Joy-Ann (Pro-Democracy) Reid 😷 (@JoyAnnReid) February 5, 2018
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
MLK drove a Ram truck?
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) February 5, 2018
So Martin Luther King Jr. can be used to sell Ram trucks but not a single NFL player can #TakeAKnee to fight the very injustice Dr. King dedicated and sacrificed his life to fight. #SuperBowl
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) February 5, 2018
I'd say, "Hey MLK I gotta chop some wood but my Dodge Ram may not be able to handle all the wood I chop" and MLK would be like, "Let me meet you down there by the wood chopping area with my matching Dodge Ram." We'd haul the wood then go fight for civil rights later that day.
— George Wallace (@MrGeorgeWallace) February 5, 2018
the movie 'Selma' had to write original speeches for MLK to say because his family wouldn't license his words and recordings to them. Glad they finally found a good brand partner in Dodge Ram trucks that will honor his legacy
— Will 🦥 Menaker (@willmenaker) February 5, 2018