Ram Super Bowl Got into Controversy After Using Martin Luther King Jr. in a Commercial

February 6, 2018
First Published On: February 6, 2018
by Elsa

When Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a sermon on Feb. 4, 1968, 50 years ago, he probably did not have the faintest idea that his sermon would be used in an ad commercial.


Because if you have heard or read King’s sermon, he had warned about the power of advertisement.

The text in his sermon read,

“Now the presence of this instinct explains why we are so often taken by advertisers, those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion. And they have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying. And before you know it, you’re just buying that stuff.”

On Sunday night, commercial of Dodge Ram truck whose tagline is 'Built To Serve' by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was aired during the Super Bowl in which Martin Luther King Jr.’s sermon was used as a voice over.

Instantly, the commercial drew backslash from the media. After the commercial was aired, many viewers took social media to express their rage and discontentment. They in fact accused Dodge of actually using the late civil rights leader's words inappropriately for selling trucks.

[ CAPTION: People expressing their discontentment via Twitter ][ SOURCE: Dailymail ]

In the commercial, Americans are shown struggling and moments of heroism; a man sweats doing push-ups and a firefighter rescuing a boy outside a burning building. Finally, a Ram truck is shown transporting a church.

Youtube: Watch the commercial of Ram Trucks;

The problem, however, was only a part of his sermon was used while the main point of his sermon was left out.

As mentioned in his sermon, King warned about the dangers Americans spend too much in cars and don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. In fact, he actually suggested people buy car that cost no more than half of their annual income.

Eric Tidwell, manager of the Estate of Dr. Martin Luther King did make the decision of allowing the use of his sermon in the ad. Tidwell who is also responsible for handling the licensing King's intellectual property told that they were aware of the of the Ram Nation volunteers and their efforts.

Representatives of King estate even reviewed to ensure it met "standard integrity clearances".

In his defense, Tidwell further told,

“We found that the overall message of the ad embodied Dr. King's philosophy that true greatness is achieved by serving others.”

On the other hand, Bernice King, youngest child of King and chief executive of the King Center was not happy about the commercial.

[ CAPTION: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ][ SOURCE: ABC news ]

The King Center founded by King’s wife, Coretta Scott King as a tribute to her husband, tweeted that the Center and her youngest son did not support the use of his sermon in advertisements.

King certainly did not die to be featured in a Dodge commercial as tweeted by one of his fans. His last words in his sermon included,

“I want to be remembered for doing good deeds, including serving others.”

Now how will NFL handle the criticism and rage?