martin luther king in a super bowl ad for ram trucks

a commercial for ram trucks that ran during super bowl lii last sunday used  a speech by dr. martin luther king jr.

not everybody thought that was cool.  mae anderson of the associated press wrote about it and her article appeared on the abcnews website with this headline

Ram truck ad using MLK speech draws backlash

draw is attract. backlash is a negative reaction.

using martin luther king’s words in a commercial for ram trucks drew backlash. (

anderson explains

the ad shows people doing service-oriented tasks set against audio of king’s speech, which urges people to be “great” by serving the greater good. it was supposed to highlight the volunteer program ram nation.

set against means dr. king’s speech was the soundtrack, it appeared simultaneously with the images of people performing services.  the greater good refers to benefiting society or community. supposed to means that was the intention. highlight means give attention to.

bad for the greater good: a political philosophy that frank underwood embodied on the series house of cards

fiat chrysler, the company that produces ram trucks, has had success on recent super bowl sundays, but this ad produced a mostly negative reaction.

it was criticized by viewers and ad experts alike……on twitter, most people expressed the idea that using king’s speech to “sell trucks” crossed a line between a heartfelt message and exploiting emotions just to push a vehicle.

alike means both viewers and advertising experts had problems with the spot (commercial). cross a line indicates fiat chrysler made a mistake.  heartfelt means sincere. push means promote, sell.

fun elt practice :) richyrocks english on youtube

kevin hart was rooting for the eagles at super bowl 52

professor kelly o’keefe of the brandcenter program at virginia commonwealth university (an advertising expert) observed

they pushed it over the edge. u wanted to root for it because the cause is good, but it just didn’t end up fitting the brand, so you ended up feeling a little bit manipulated.

root for means cheer for or supportend up refers to the end of a process. a little bit is a small quantity.  push over the edge, similar to cross the line, gives the idea that fiat chrysler went too far using martin luther king’s voice to sell trucks.

a ruthless example of being pushed over the edge

in the track the message by grandmaster flash & the furious five, listen for the line

don’t push me ’cause i’m close to the edge

it appears several times throughout the song (from start to finish). the rhythm used to deliver this line is iconic and is imitated not only in other rap songs, but all over pop culture in english. push in this context means provoke, agitate.

kimberly stites, a viewer from nebraska; a rural, mostly white state in the middle of the u.s. where there are a lot of trucks, said

i’m not sure it was fitting for a truck commercial.  i would have liked it better if they had said something like, ‘this reminder of all that we can be, brought to u by ….'”

would have liked is a hypothetical idea in the past (3rd conditional). in reality, the ad didn’t include these words. stites suggested them after the fact.  if they had said  also presents a hypothetical possibility in the past, but the structure is different: past perfect (had + past participle). a reminder is something that helps u remember.  brought to u by is a common phrase used to present the sponsor of a program, especially on tv and radio, like the nba does in this short vid.

both o’keefe and stites use the word fitting. o’keefe’s usage is as a verb. it means be the right selection, match. stites uses it as an adjective and it means appropriate or apt.

in response to the backlash, anderson reports

fiat chrysler said in a statement that it worked closely with the king estate on the ad. the firm managing king’s intellectual property, intellectual properties management, said in a statement that it approved the ad because it embodied king’s philosophy. on twitter, the king center in atlanta said neither it nor bernice king, king’s daughter, are in charge of licensing king’s speeches or other intellectual property.

estate means the people who manage property and money left by a deceased person. embody is represent. neither, nor are used to introduce two negative statements.

it’s neither fitting nor worth it to try and brand martin luther king’s speeches and sermons. a backlash is certain to follow. (associated press)

using the discourse (communication) of martin luther king jr., the most recognized figure of the civil rights movement, to sell trucks during black history month (february) is only part of the problem though. the words included in the commercial are from a nearly 40-minute sermon (religious talk) titled the drum major instinct. the ram truck spot contains at least two images of the u.s. military, but parts of the sermon not included in the commercial harshly criticize arrogant u.s. foreign policy and participation in unjust wars. most amazing of all, another part of the sermon slams (criticizes) techniques advertisers use to sell cars, specifically mentioning chrysler.  🤔

a truck commercial? seriously?

what do u know about martin luther king?  did fiat chrysler cross a line with their ad for super bowl  lii? share your views under leave a reply




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