Several of the commercials that aired between plays of Super Bowl LII took a social justice tack, from Coke’s declaration that their product caters to all gender identities to T-Mobile’s ad suggesting all newborn babies are growing up now in a world that is already prejudiced against them. But one social justice ad by Dodge is angering many people on both sides of the aisle — and generating some support.
The commercial for Ram trucks features a voiceover by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of a speech he gave exactly 50 years — to the day — before Sunday’s Super Bowl. MLK’s speech quotes Matthew 23 and Luke 22, which talk about how Christian leaders need to act like humble servants.
As MLK explains how servants can do great things even if they come from humble roots, a video montage plays, featuring blue-collar workers, ranchers, a school teacher, first responders, service members, and a nurse working hard. At the very end, a Ram truck appears with the tagline: “Built to serve.”
People hated it. The backlash against the ad was widespread.
While members of the King family say they did not grant Dodge permission to use MLK’s speech for their ad, Eric D. Tidwell, who manages King’s estate, said he gave approval, according to the New York Times.
Tidwell explained, “Once the final creative was presented for approval, it was reviewed to ensure it met our standard integrity clearances. We found that the overall message of the ad embodied Dr. King’s philosophy that true greatness is achieved by serving others.”
Conservative media analyst Mark Dice called the commercial “wrong" and “shameful.” But conservative commentator Ben Shapiro defended the ad, saying liberals are off-base in their criticism of it.
In a column for the Daily Wire, Shapiro acknowledged the MLK’s full speech slammed the idea of people buying cars they couldn’t afford in order to boost their image.
But Shapiro said, “That’s fine. But that’s obviously not the message of the ad. The message of the ad is that meaningful lives are those led helping others, and that a Dodge Ram might be able to help you do that. Is that really so terrible?”
He added that the Ram commercial promotes being creative and productive and serving one another, and it’s not a speech that everyone has heard before. In essence, it praises American capitalism.
Shapiro also bashed people who said the ad was cruelly ironic because MLK is being used to sell trucks during the Super Bowl while #BlackLivesMatter players are being discouraged from kneeling in protest during the National Anthem. Shapiro pointed out that Dr. King praised the American flag.
“It’s a good thing when advertisers spread MLK’s message,” he concluded. “End of story.”
What did you think of the commercial? In other news, a riot broke out in Philadelphia last night after the Eagles won the Super Bowl for the first time.