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Despite all the focus groups and ad agency meetings it must have gone through before making it to the Super Bowl, Dodge Ram's 60-second "Built To Serve" ad is already receiving heavy blowback for its distasteful use of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech.
Using portions of MLK's 1968 sermon "The Drum Major Instinct" as a soundtrack, the advertisement features a collage of rescue workers, football players, and Marines to help illustrate its "Built To Serve" tagline. After airing during the second quarter of Super Bowl LII, the ad received immediate criticism for attempting to use the civil rights leader's words to sell trucks during Black History Month.
Explaining the concept of the ad in the video's YouTube description, Ram Trucks wrote: "In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ram truck owners also believe in a life of serving others. They serve because they’re driven by a higher calling. They serve because they feel a shared responsibility and commitment to their family and community. They serve because they’re men and women of their word. They serve because they know the world could use a little more kindness."
Shortly after the commercial aired, the official Twitter account of The King Center explained that neither they nor MLK's daughter Bernice King were the parties responsible for approving the use of his words in the advertisement.
If you would like to hear Martin Luther King Jr.'s full "The Drum Major Instinct" sermon as it was originally intended, you can listen below.