The Super Bowl! It’s the big football game when all the brands try and make you feel deep feelings in hopes you’ll buy their dumb shit. I don’t want to speak for the man, but I’m guessing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wouldn’t have been a great fan, seeing as how he once said “the evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.” That didn’t stop Ram from using an excerpt from one of his speeches in tonight’s Super Bowl ad, and it’s got a lot of people pissed off.
The ad shows people in various states of struggle and hard work as the new 2019 Ram 1500 runs around in between those scenes. Deep! There’s also one with Vikings, and no one seems mad about that, probably because it’s not tone deaf like this was.
That’s because the ad plays with a recorded excerpt of King’s “Drum Major Instinct” sermon, delivered in Atlanta in 1968, just two months before his assassination. The words are nice, sure. But people are rightfully taking issue with the ad, calling it at odds with King’s often anti-capitalist sentiments, a crass and cynical commercialization of the life-and-death matters King spent his life fighting for, and a part of the ongoing whitewashing and sanitizing of King’s legacy—to say nothing of the racially charged issues we’ve seen in the NFL itself over the past year.
Here’s the ad, if you want:
At the very least, maybe—just maybe—it’s kind of gross to use a murdered Civil Rights icon to sell Ram trucks.
Furthermore, it’s not even clear who OK’d King’s speech for the ad. Slate says Ram “worked closely with the representatives of the Martin Luther King Jr. estate to receive the necessary approvals,” according to an email, but that’s at odd with what King’s own daughter Bernice King and The King Center said on Twitter tonight.
More on this if we get it.
Update: This tweet from FCA sheds a bit more light on what happened: