The Crusader Newspaper Group

Use of Martin Luther King Jr. to sell trucks infuriates admirers during Super Bowl

By James Rainey,

The National Football League got the thrilling game it hoped for, but not a Super Bowl free of controversy Sunday, as pregame protesters rallied against racism and a television ad infuriated many viewers by invoking the voice of Martin Luther King Jr. to sell pickup trucks.

An audience expected to top 100 million people watched a nail-biter contest that ended with a 41-33 victory for the Philadelphia Eagles over the New England Patriots. But American television’s biggest annual audience also got a taste of something unexpected midway through the second quarter, with an ad opening with strains of King’s 1968 speech “The Drum Major Instinct,” based on a homily.

The 30-second spot turned into an homage to American patriotism, complete with pictures of U.S. Marines and a camouflage-clad soldier hugging his child. It was a pitch for Dodge Ram trucks’ “Built To Serve” volunteer program, but the ad provoked outrage from many viewers and a rebuke from the King Center, which says its mission is to carry on his teachings and to “empower change-makers who are continuing his efforts today.”


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