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Entertainment Weekly

Super Bowl

Super Bowl pickup truck ad outrages viewers by using MLK speech

Posted on

I have a dream … of a fully-loaded 4×2 Ram pickup truck?

Ram Trucks outraged some Super Bowl viewers with a commercial that used a recording of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech to push car sales.

The 30-second ad — which is seemingly meant to be sincere and patriotic — featured evocative images of blue-collar Americans at work, with family and giving back to their communities. A speech made by Dr. King on Feb. 4, 1968 (50 years ago today) plays as voiceover throughout. Explains the ad’s description: “In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ram truck owners also believe in a life of serving others.”

But viewers used terms like “tone deaf” and “shameful” and “bad taste,” and even the foundation devoted to preserving King’s memory issued a statement distancing itself from the ad.

Watch the commercial above and read the reactions below (note: Many are using “Dodge” to refer to the truck’s parent company but Ram and Dodge are now technically sibling divisions under Fiat Chrysler):

The King Center — the memorial nonprofit founded by Coretta Scott King to honor MLK — released a statement making it clear that neither the organization nor King’s daughter Bernice King had approved of the ad or gave permission for the speech to be used:

But not everybody was against the ad:

UPDATE: According to Slate, Ram did indeed get approval from the King estate for the ad. The brand “worked closely with the representatives of the Martin Luther King Jr. estate to receive the necessary approvals… Estate representatives were a very important part of the creative process”