Ram Trucks ad during Super Bowl using Martin Luther King Jr. audio sparks social media scorn

redriderbob

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Ram Trucks ad during Super Bowl using Martin Luther King Jr. audio sparks social media scorn

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlbY1tGARUA

A Ram Trucks Super Bowl commercial that featured audio from one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s last speeches sparked instant controversy Sunday night on social media, with some criticizing the ad for poor taste for using the late civil rights leader's words for a commercial purpose.

The ad, called "Built to Serve," interspersed modern scenes of working Americans – and Ram trucks in action – with background audio from a soaring speech that King gave on Feb. 4, 1968 the dealt with notions of personal greatness. King was assassinated two months after giving the speech.

"Everybody can be great," King said. "You only need a heart full of grace; soul generated by love."

Some social media users, especially people of color, took offense to the 60-second ad and faulted Fiat Chrysler's Ram division for using King's speech to sell vehicles.

An FCA U.S. spokesperson said the ad was meant to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the speech about the value of service.

"We worked closely with the representatives of the Martin Luther King Jr. estate to receive the necessary approvals and estate representatives were a very important part of the creative process every step of the way," the spokesperson said.

Despite its detractors, the Ram Truck commercial and its emotional appeal drew praise from some.

One Twitter user pointed out that the Ram commercial did not include a section from the same King speech that warned against unchecked consumerism, particularly the urge to outspend one's neighbors in real estate or vehicles.

"But so often, haven't you seen people making five thousand dollars a year and driving a car that costs six thousand? And they wonder why their ends never meet," King said, according to an online transcript of the speech. "I want to move to the point of saying that if this instinct is not harnessed, it becomes a very dangerous, pernicious instinct."

https://www.freep.com/story/money/cars/chrysler/2018/02/04/ram-trucks-super-bowl-mlk/305692002/
 

redriderbob

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Ram Super Bowl ad: Do MLK's words contradict sales pitch?

A Super Bowl commercial Sunday that used an edited snippet of a sermon by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on its 50th anniversary — to the day — to advertise Ram trucks received a swift response on social media. Some people loved it, others really hated it.

Those who loved the ad praised King's key message of service.

Those who hated it questioned whether it was appropriate for the automaker to use King as a pitchman.

“Dr. Martin Luther King had, and continues to have, a profound influence on world culture," said Robert Davidman, a partner at The Fearless Agency in New York. "His voice represents something that shouldn’t be used for commercial purposes.”

There is another question: Was King's quote taken out of context?

The Super Bowl spot — "Built to Serve," by a Chicago-based ad agency Highdive — used part of King's sermon that refers to how "everybody can be great," and to do so, "you only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love." It combined an edited version of King's sermon with a variety of images: public servants working, folks playing football, and, of course, Ram trucks. It ended with the Ram slogan "Built to Serve."



The Ram truck that was featured in the Super Bowl ads will be built at the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant. Ram 1500s are made in Warren, and the Ram Heavy Duty is built in Saltillo, Mexico.

But, if you listen to — or read — the entire sermon, King warned about the dangers of keeping up with the Joneses and living high, specifically overspending on material things, such as automobiles, and being “taken by advertisers.”

The homily, often referred to as "The Drum Major Instinct," was delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. In it, the civil rights leader encouraged his congregation to seek greatness through service and love, a way to avoid "the drum major instinct." It's an impulse, King said, we all have to "be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade."

"Now the presence of this instinct explains why we are so often taken by advertisers," King preached. "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."

"You've seen people riding around in Cadillacs and Chryslers who don't earn enough to have a good T-Model Ford. But it feeds a repressed ego," he said. "You know, economists tell us that your automobile should not cost more than half of your annual income. So if you make an income of $5,000, your car shouldn't cost more than about $2,500. That's just good economics."

King, who was assassinated two months after he gave the sermon, ended the message with thoughts about his own funeral.

"If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long," he said. "I'd like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others."

Auburn Hills-based Fiat Chrysler, which owns Ram, has a tradition of producing risky Super Bowl commercials with emotionally charged messages.

In 2011, Fiat Chrysler aired a Chrysler commercial, "Born of Fire," for the 200. The ad featured rapper Eminem and scenes from Detroit. The Portland, Ore.-based agency Wieden+Kennedy produced it. Fiat Chrysler severed ties with that agency 2016. But "Born of Fire" was widely praised and credited with helping change the national narrative about the Motor City.

In 2012, Chrysler's commercial, "Halftime in America," used actor Clint Eastwood, who was vocal in opposing the auto bailout, to deliver a message during the game's halftime that America also was facing a halftime.

"People are out of work and they're hurting. And they're all wondering what they're going to do to make a comeback," Eastwood said in the commercial, referring to the recession. But, he added: "This country can't be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines."

That commercial also was praised and criticized as being political during a presidential election year.

Highdive, the agency that created the Ram spot, touts itself as a boutique firm. On its website, it touts its clients, and asks, "Looking for brave thinking? Let's dive in," showing a video clip of a man diving off a cliff.

So far, the Ram ad has given the Ram Trucks brand only a small boost in web traffic, 4%, significantly less than Kia, at 94%; Lexus, 43%; and Jeep, 21%, according to Edmunds, a leading car information and shopping firm that monitors online consumer auto activity.

In response to questions about whether Ram had a right to use King's words and voice on Sunday, the automaker said its ad agency "worked very closely with the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr., which is separate from the King Center" and it has "a signed agreement with the estate."

The King Center, in Atlanta, is a nonprofit organization established by King's late widow, Coretta Scott King. The King estate and King Center have a history of litigation about King's legacy. The estate, in a statement, said it reviewed the ad and found the message was consistent with King's philosophy of service.

The Ram commercial, the automaker said, was "only intended to only air once" during the Super Bowl. That doesn't preclude Ram, which posted the commercial on social media, from showing the ad online.

Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or <woltlab-metacode data-name="email" data-attributes="WyJmd2l0c2lsQGZyZWVwcmVzcy5jb20iXQ=="></woltlab-metacode>

https://www.freep.com/story/money/business/michigan/2018/02/05/ram-super-bowl-ad-kings-trucks/306899002/
 

AndrewGS

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#4
I don't see the issue here? He's an inspirational figure in history, his words are wise and I thought made it a great commercial. Would there be as much backlash had they used an excerpt from a JFK speech?
 

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