By Ryan Velez
The Super Bowl is the prime time for companies to put out a commercial, with many paying millions and saving some of their best concepts to be put in front of one of the largest built-in audiences all year. The Grio reports that Dodge’s plan may have backfired after they chose to invoke Martin Luther King, Jr. to sell some trucks.
The ad uses Martin Luther King‘s words and voice from his 1968 “Drum Major Instinct” sermon. While the audio of King’s speech plays, the ad shows emotional moments such as soldiers reuniting with their families as well as footage of athletes and students, the Washington Post reported.
“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,” you can hear King saying.
That’s when the new Dodge Ram truck shows up, along with the tagline, “Built to serve: Ram.” Many people saw this as hypocritical and insulting in the wake of the anthem controversy. “Black people can’t kneel and play football but MLK should be used to sell trucks during the super bowl,” writer and comedian Akilah Hughes tweeted. “Unbelievable.”
On Sunday night, Dodge released a statement defending its ad, saying that it was “honored to have the privilege of working with the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. to celebrate those words during the largest TV viewing event annually.”
“Estate representatives were a very important part of the creative process every step of the way.” In many ways, the decision highlights discord between the King children, as Roland Martin explained via Twitter.
“Dexter King runs the MLK Estate. It is essentially run by the lead trustees – him & Martin Luther King III. @BerniceKing & @TheKingCenter have released a statement that she had nothing to do with MLK’s voice appearing in @Dodge Super Bowl commercial. That’s on Dexter and MLK III.”
“This is not the first time that the MLK Estate – Dexter and MLK III – have allowed the voice and likeness of their father to be used to sell a commercial product. Also, keep in mind that Dexter and MLK III sued @BerniceKing and tried to get her removed from @TheKingCenter,” he continued.