Chrysler had a dream its Dodge Ram Super Bowl commercial, complete with a Martin Luther King Jr. voiceover, would be a big hit.
Instead, many people are calling out the auto company for using a 50-year-old speech to sell trucks.
“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,” booms King’s voice in the ad.
As King preaches, viewers see several brave and uplifting scenes, including a dog being saved from rubble, a firefighter carrying a boy away from a fire, troops marching, and, of course, a Dodge Ram towing a chapel.
Chrysler and representatives for the King Estate did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment. But according to Slate, the company “worked closely with the representatives of the Martin Luther King Jr. estate to receive the necessary approvals,” said a representative from Ram Trucks. “Estate representatives were a very important part of the creative process.”
But Bernice King, MLK’s daughter, said otherwise. When asked on Twitter to whether the King family signed off on the commercial, she said “No.”
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) February 5, 2018
The response to hearing Dr. King’s voice in the ad was unfavorable:
The Dodge ad with MLK was repulsive. It’s important to remember this is what corporations do. They digest progress and sell it back to us. 1/
— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) February 5, 2018
I’m sorry, they did *what* with MLK?
— Matt Pearce ???? (@mattdpearce) 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
Not sure MLK’s dream was to drive a Dodge Ram.
— ItsTheReal (@itsthereal) February 5, 2018
The blatant commodification of black culture, black struggle and black pain illustrates perfectly how America is perfectly willing to exploit blackness but perfectly incapable of honoring it. #DodgeRam #MLK
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) February 5, 2018
As I'm sure others have noted, MLK's voice was used to sell trucks during a game where black players are forbidden to kneel in recognition of injustice. Oh, and Budweiser thinks they do disaster relief.
— Christopher Ryan (@ThatChrisRyan) February 5, 2018
A few people were willing to admit that they didn’t mind it:
Call me a contrarian. I liked the MLK ad for Ram Trucks. Yes, it was an ad for trucks, but it wasn’t about trucks, and it didn’t make me wanna buy a truck. It was just so nice to hear those words from 50 years ago at this moment in time. #SuperBowlAds
— janewells (@janewells) February 5, 2018
Silly me – I just liked that a rarely-heard passage from MLK was being broadcast to millions, calling them to serve
Could have cut the truck shots, tho https://t.co/EBhFuc4xyo
— Diana Rugg (@DianaRuggOnTV) February 5, 2018