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People Really Hate That The Ram's Super Bowl Ad Used A Martin Luther King Jr. Speech

"MLK drove a Ram truck?"

Originally posted on
Updated on

The Ram's Super Bowl ad features a speech by Martin Luther King Jr., which was originally delivered on Feb. 4, 1968 — just two months before his assassination.

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People immediately took to Twitter to point out it was a bad idea to use King's speech to sell cars.

lmao who told the car company that invoking mlk for their commercial was smart?!

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The speech the commercial is titled "The Drum Major Instinct," and addresses the importance of service.

For those wondering: the MLK recording used during that Dodge commercial was King giving a sermon at Ebenezer Bapti… https://t.co/EONmNRURFN

Mother Jones editorial director Ben Dreyfuss pointed out that Martin Luther King Jr.'s estate has tight control over his work, including the iconic "I Have a Dream" speech, and has a history of licensing his speeches for TV commercials — much to the criticism of civil rights activists.

The MLK estate keeps a tight grip on the civil right’s icons image and words. This isn’t the first car commercial t… https://t.co/mUQVNAT9Nr

Bernice King, who is the youngest child of Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted "no" when asked if his children had allowed the speech to be used in the commercial.

The King Center tweeted that neither the center nor Bernice King approves the use of Martin Luther King Jr.'s words or imagery. The center also tweeted a video of the full speech.

Neither @TheKingCenter nor @BerniceKing is the entity that approves the use of #MLK’s words or imagery for use in m… https://t.co/sV0vQxUMcS

The firm that manages King's intellectual property, Intellectual Properties Management, told the Associated Press that it approved the ad because it embodied King's philosophy.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for Fiat Chrysler said that "the Ram brand worked closely with the representatives of the Martin Luther King Jr. estate to receive the necessary approvals and estate representatives were a very important part of the creative process."

Reporter Kate Aronoff noted that the full text of King's speech includes a critique of conspicuous consumption and car sales.

Not totally sure the Dodge RAM ad guys read that whole MLK speech.. https://t.co/QPa16BGv3d

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People pointed out that Fiat Chrysler, which makes the Ram Truck, was sued last year for allegedly discriminating against black managers.

The same car company that didn't wanna hire blacks using MLK speeches in the commercial

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for Fiat Chrysler said that "the Ram brand worked closely with the representatives of the Martin Luther King Jr. estate to receive the necessary approvals and estate representatives were a very important part of the creative process."

People said the ad was tone deaf.

Black people cant kneel and play football but MLK should be used to sell trucks during the super bowl. Unbelievable.

And made jokes.

If you don’t like MLK in a car commercial you are going to hate the new Doritos flavor Gandhi is pushing.

Lots of jokes.

"I might not get to that mountain top with you, but when you get to that mountain top make sure you get there in a… https://t.co/5hBRM3r6xZ

"MLK drove a Ram truck?"

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"I feel like MLK was more of a Jeep guy."

I feel like MLK was more of a Jeep guy.

"I have a dream. That someday my words will be in a Dodge Ram commercial."

MLK: I have a dream. That someday my words will be in a Dodge Ram commercial. #SuperBowl52

But maybe it could've been worse?

To be fair MLK’s ghost is probably happier he’s selling cars than performing with Justin Timberlake

Making the rounds Monday was a version of the ad re-cut with a speech MLK Jr. gave about capitalism.

OMG someone overlayed that ridiculous Dodge/MLK ad with what King actually said about capitalism and car commercials

The audio runs, in part, "Now the presence of this instinct explains why we are so often taken by advertisers. You know, those gentleman of massive verbal persuasion have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying. 'In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey.' 'In order to make your neighbors envious, you must drive this type of car.' 'In order to be lovely or to love, you must wear this kind of lipstick or this kind of perfume.' And before you know it you're just buying that stuff... I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit. And I'm going to continue to say it to America."

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

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