Ram Trucks Face Backlash Over MLK Super Bowl Ad

Company had the year's most controversial ad
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2018 3:34 AM CST
Updated Feb 5, 2018 6:21 AM CST

During this year's Super Bowl, advertisers mostly played it safe—apart from Fiat Chrysler, which faced a major backlash after using a Martin Luther King Jr. speech in an ad for Dodge Ram trucks. "Recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That's a new definition of greatness," the civil rights leader said in the Feb. 4, 1968 speech. The company said it had obtained permission from King's estate, though the King Center nonprofit said it hadn't approved the ad, USA Today reports. Critics noted that MLK's dream "probably wasn't to drive a Ram"—and that in the same speech used in the commercial, he said families shouldn't spend too much of their income on automobiles. Some other standout ads, which can be seen in the gallery:

  • NFL. The "Touchdown Celebration" NFL spot featuring Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. in a Dirty Dancing spoof got some laughs at AdAge, which writes: "Not since the Super Bowl shuffle have we so enjoyed seeing these big lugs boogie."
  • Amazon. The company's "Alexa Loses Her Voice" ad featured an appearance from CEO Jeff Bezos, as well as celebrities including Gordon Ramsey, Cardi B, and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

  • Doritos/Mountain Dew. Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman trade rhymes in an ad for Doritos Blaze versus Mountain Dew Ice that Billboard describes as "the rap battle of the 21st century."
  • Tide. David Harbour stars in what he tells AdWeek was a "wildly self-aware" series of ads mimicking ads for other products designed to make viewers wonder, "Wow, maybe every ad is like a Tide ad."
  • Pringles. Pringles brought out Bill Hader and what AdAge calls a collection of "slack-jawed wacky types" to introduce the concept of "stacking" Pringles for new flavor combinations.
  • Budweiser. In one of several socially conscious beer ads, Budweiser, the game's largest advertiser, highlighted its efforts to send water to places in need.
  • Toyota. Toyota promoted its Paralympics sponsorship by telling the story of skiier Lauren Woolstencroft, reports the AP, which notes that a fifth of this year's ads involved social causes, up from 6% last year.
  • Hyundai. The automaker tugged at heart strings with an ad focusing on its pediatric cancer research charity. "This is the first time Hyundai has trotted out its charity in a Super Bowl ad, and we're betting it isn't the last," CNET predicts.
  • Tourism Australia. The Dundee ad came as part of an elaborate Australian marketing campaign featuring a nonexistent sequel to Crocodile Dundee, reports the New York Times.
(More Super Bowl ads stories.)

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