The ad was aired on Sunday for Chrysler’s Dodge Ram Trucks, and used the voice of the civil rights activist as well as his powerful 1968 speech to promote the vehicle’s “built to serve” tagline.
Dr. King’s youngest daughter Bernice King immediately denounced the advert and the move itself, having taken to Twitter through The King Center, the official living memorial to MLK, founded by his wife Coretta Scott King to advocate nonviolence.
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.— The King Center (@TheKingCenter) 5 февраля 2018 г.
The controversial ad features families, servicemen, shows their lives as well as depicting Ram trucks driving – all accompanied by King’s words.
“If you want to be important, wonderful,” Dr. King can be heard saying. “If you want to be recognized, wonderful. If you want to be great, wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your citizens. That’s your new definition of greatness. By giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know the theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. Soul generated by love.”
Social media users, who cherish King’s memory, joined his family in complaining, saying that such a powerful speech should not be commercialized:
Such a sad day when a powerful message is used to sell a truck that does environmental harm and cost way too much to own. Next time make sure the entity partners with civil service groups— Realistsofly (@Realistsofly) 5 февраля 2018 г.
Trivialization is the issue. Dr. king was explicitly against this sort of hucksterism. And I’m an ad woman.— Valerie Graves Book (@ValGravesBook) 5 февраля 2018 г.
They imagined what it would be like if King took part in the advert:
"Please use me to sell trucks."— Matt Haag (@MattHaagMusic) 5 февраля 2018 г.
— Martin Luther King Jr.
"I might not get to that mountain top with you, but when you get to that mountain top make sure you get there in a Dodge. and make sure that thing got a hemi!"- Lost MLK Quote pic.twitter.com/RLtXVkN7YO— Roy Wood Jr- Ex Jedi (@roywoodjr) 5 февраля 2018 г.
"Dodge Rams are dope AF" Martin Luther King Jr— Paul McCarthy (@PaulPMcCarthy) 5 февраля 2018 г.
In the words of the great Martin Luther King Jr., “Get $4,300 cash back on your 2018 Dodge Ram.” #SuperBowl— Victoria Lee (@LeVicto) 5 февраля 2018 г.
"i have decided to stick with love, and also dodge, because my message has been sanitized so much that it now supports loud overpriced trucks for white people"— Narrative Ultra (@NarrativeUltra) 5 февраля 2018 г.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.