Dodge Ram under fire for using MLK speech in Super Bowl ad

RAM Commercial

It's a powerful ad that only briefly highlights Ram's newest truck.

Mixed in the Super Bowl scramble of commercials about laundry detergent and potato chips Sunday was an advertisement for Dodge Ram trucks featuring a voiceover from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Adding to the disconnect for some viewers, the speech, delivered 50 years ago on Feb 4, 1968 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, touched on the danger of overspending on goods such as cars and openly suggested why American consumers "are so often taken by advertisers". "That's the new definition of greatness", MLK can be heard saying.

Dr King's voice rings out as the ad for Ram Trucks shows a series of ordinary people in acts of love.

One pivotal line was: "But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant".

"I liked being reminded of Martin Luther King's speech (but) I'm not sure it was fitting for a truck commercial", said Kimberly Stites, who was watching the game in Gretna, Nebraska.

King's own daughter, Bernice King, said the family did not sign off on the ad.

Religion made another appearance in a separate Super Bowl commercial, in which Toyota used religious leaders to advertise trucks. So if you make an income of $5,000, your auto shouldn't cost more than about $2,500. "That's just good economics".

Several people on social media found the commercial distasteful.

"Do you ever see people buy cars that they can't even begin to buy in terms of their income?"

However representatives of the King Estate, which is separate from The King Center, told the Slate on Sunday night that they did approve the use of the sermon in the Super Bowl ad. "The spot is comprised of 26 powerful images of those serving others, with Dr. King's commanding voice calling for all of us to serve".

But it was criticized by viewers and ad experts alike for forging too tenuous a connection with the civil rights hero.

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