Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream a very long time ago.
And we can assure readers of the following:
His dream was most definitely not to have his legendary words used in an ad for Dodge Ram trucks.
But that’s exactly what the car company did at Super Bowl 52, excerpting portions of the activity’s 1968 speech "The Drum Major Instinct."
The 30-second ad cost Dodge $5 million… and a great deal of negative PR.
It turned into a tribute to patriotism, complete with photos of U.S. Marines and a camouflage-clad soldier hugging his child.
This was a pitch for Dodge Ram trucks’ "Built To Serve" volunteer program, but the commercial instead provoked anger from many viewers and a rebuke from the King Center itself, which says its mission is to carry on his teachings and to "empower change-makers who are continuing his efforts today."
The mission does NOT include the use of King to sell a bunch of vehicles.
Tweeted The King Center during the game, as opinions were being voiced all around social media:
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.
Later, after writer Michael Arceneaux wrote on Twitter, "So that means the King children allowed Dr. King’s voice to be used to sell me a Dodge truck," Bernice King replied very simply:
Added Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University:
"The use of MLK to promote Ram trucks strikes many people as crass and inappropriate."
And Kelly O’Keefe, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Brandcenter:
"They pushed it over the edge. You wanted to root for it because the cause is good, but it just didn’t end up fitting the brand, so you ended up feeling a little bit manipulated."
Do you agree?
Or is this much ado over very little?
Watch the controversial Super Bowl commercial below and decide for yourself: