Ram Super Bowl Spot Sparks Social Media Backlash

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles debuted five spots during Sunday’s Super Bowl, including one for Ram that is garnering some criticism on social media for the use of Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice.

Built to Serve” includes 26 images of those serving others including a teacher, a fireman rescuing a child, a pregnant woman receiving a sonogram and a service member reuniting with a family member. It features narration from the Feb. 4, 1968, speech — Sunday was the 50th anniversary — by the late activist.

Twitter users expressed their displeasure with the 60-second spot, including King Jr.’s daughter, Bernice A. King, and The King Center, a non-profit dedicated to promoting non-violent social change.

The King Center tweeted "neither the King Center nor Bernice King is the entity that approves the use of MLK’s words or imagery for use in merchandise, entertainment or advertisement, including tonight's Dodge Super Bowl commercial.”  Ram previously used to fall under the Dodge brand before it was separated into its own brand in 2009.

The spot, created by Highdive, a new boutique advertising agency based in Chicago, has already been viewed more than a half million times on YouTube, where it has the following descriptor: “In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ram truck owners also believe in a life of serving others. They serve because they’re driven by a higher calling. They serve because they feel a shared responsibility and commitment to their family and community. They serve because they’re men and women of their word. They serve because they know the world could use a little more kindness.”

Another 60-second spot for Ram from San Francisco-based Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, takes a much lighter tone. “Icelandic Vikings | We Will Rock You”  humorously pays tribute to Minneapolis, the setting of this year’s big game. Set to an up-tempo cut of “We Will Rock You,” a version of Queen’s ultimate stadium song, the Ram Truck brand fittingly enlists the help of Icelandic Vikings, thought to be some of the first European settlers in Minnesota. It was filmed in Iceland to ensure authenticity, given the country’s frigid scenery. The spot was directed by Joe Pytka, a renowned director of more than 80 Super Bowl spots, including nine that topped the USA Today ad meter. 

The automaker showed three new spots for Jeep. The 60-second “Jeep Jurassic'” video stars Jeff Goldblum and the 2018 Jeep Wrangler, the 30-second “Anti-Manifesto” puts the spotlight on the 2018 Jeep Wrangler capability and the 30-second “The Road” features the 2019 Jeep Cherokee.

“Jurassic World” from DDB Chicago pays homage to the iconic scene in "Jurassic Park," in which Dr. Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) escapes danger while in the back of a Jeep Wrangler — as he is being chased by a rampaging Tyrannosaurus rex. The video is directed by "Jurassic World" director Colin Trevorrow, who returns as co-writer and executive producer of "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," arriving in U.S. theaters June 22.

“Anti-Manifesto” from Arnold Worldwide speaks of the endless auto ads that make declarations of what their brand or vehicles deliver. Jeep instead chooses to show what the Jeep can do, namely effortlessly climb up steep and rocky terrain. “The Road” from FCB Chicago shows overhead shots of vehicles traveling on various city roads, before cutting to an off-road path through the woods being traversed by a Jeep Cherokee.

Toyota had three spots from two different campaigns leading the first quarter, half-time and second half. Two spots are from its first-ever global campaign, “Start Your Impossible,” which communicates the company’s shift to a mobility company and aims to inspire consumers to take their first step to unleash their potential. The third spot was from its longtime U.S. campaign “Let’s Go Places,” and aims to empower viewers to see what they’re capable of when sports fans unite.

Hyundai Motor America had two spots, one in the pre-game show and one in the fourth quarter. Lexus and Kia each had one spot. General Motors, Ford, Subaru and Honda were all absent from the football game, although Subaru ran spots during the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet.

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