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Dodge Criticized for Using MLK Speech in Ad

by Shane Thomas


Dodge is facing criticism for using Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Drum Major Instinct” sermon in a commercial.  



Dodge Ram Creates Controversy for Using MLK Speech

After a turbulent and controversial 2017 NFL season, the league tried to eliminate polarizing issues and statements from Super Bowl LII commercials.

Unfortunately, Dodge RAM still found controversy by using excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Drum Major Instinct” sermon, which took place 50 years to the date of the latest Super Bowl, to promote their service in the community and their product.

According to, “The ad uses Martin Luther King’s words and voice from his 1968 ‘Drum Major Instinct’ sermon. While the audio of King’s speech plays, the ad shows emotional moments such as soldiers reuniting with their families as well as footage of athletes and students, the Washington Post reported.”

Excerpts from the “Drum Major Instinct” sermon read, “If you want to be important, wonderful. 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 servant. That’s a new definition of greatness,” King preached.

While Dodge has shown dedication to community service in the past, many are upset because in the same “Drum Major Instinct” sermon, King preached against advertising and capitalism.

Somehow, those excerpts from the sermon were omitted from the Super Bowl commercial.

King went on to preach, “Now the presence of this instinct explains why we are so often taken by advertisers. You know, those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion. And they have a way of saying things to you that kind of gets you into buying. In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey. In order to make your neighbors envious, you must drive this type of car. In order to be lovely to love you must wear this kind of lipstick or this kind of perfume. And you know, before you know it, you’re just buying that stuff. That’s the way the advertisers do it…

“It often causes us to live above our means. It’s nothing but the drum major instinct. Do you ever see people buy cars that they can’t even begin to buy in terms of their income? You’ve seen people riding around in Cadillacs and Chryslers who don’t earn enough to have a good T-Model Ford. But it feeds a repressed ego.”

Additionally, the Dodge Super Bowl commercial has created another controversy amongst King’s remaining children.

The King Estate, run by Dexter King and with Martin Luther King III as one of the board of trustees, approved of the commercial.

The Rev. Bernice King, who is not a part of the King Estate, disapproves of the commercial. Bernice is a part of the King Center and her brothers once tried to get her removed from the center.

Many in the African-American community are upset that the King sons would approve of their father’s words being used to sell an automobile, but would not approve of filmmaker Ava Duvernay using their father’s words in the film “Selma.”

Almost immediately after the ad aired, Dodge released a statement defending the use of King’s voice in the commercial and stating that it was an honor to work with the King Estate on the Super Bowl spot.

This article was published on Friday 09 February, 2018.
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