A huge backlash erupted after a Super Bowl ad for Dodge Ram trucks used one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s last speeches as a backdrop. The one-minute ad, which was watched by more than 100 million people, featured King’s famous “The Drum Major Instinct” sermon he gave at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, just two months before he was assassinated.
While Dodge had the approval of King’s estate to use the speech, the commercial offended many viewers including the King Center in Atlanta, which condemned the ad in a tweet saying that it and King’s daughter, Bernice King, disapproves of “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.”
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 King Center (@TheKingCenter) February 5, 2018
As it turns out, King actually condemned car commercials in the very same speech. A re-edit of the Super Bowl ad was posted to YouTube by user Nathan Robinson and features the legendary civil rights leader’s words about car culture and advertisers.
Watch the video below:
OMG someone overlayed that ridiculous Dodge/MLK ad with what King actually said about capitalism and car commercials pic.twitter.com/9IB528mCyt
— Astead (@AsteadWesley) February 5, 2018
In the excerpt of King’s speech used in Robinson’s re-edit, King speaks about how “advertisers” hook people by using “massive verbal persuasion.”
Now the presence of this instinct explains why we are so often taken by advertisers — you know, those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion. And they 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 to love you must wear this kind of lipstick or this kind of perfume.” […] And, you know, before you know it, you’re just buying that stuff? […] “I’ve got to drive this car because it’s something about this car that makes my car a little better than my neighbor’s car.”[…] And 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.
It’s almost as if Dodge didn’t bother to read the entire speech. Shocking.