During the second quarter of Super Bowl LII on NBC, Fiat Chrysler aired a Dodge commercial using a speech of ardent anti-capitalist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoken 50 years ago on this day, February 4th. The speech is called the "Drum Major Instinct," given exactly two months before Dr. King was killed in Memphis, Tennessee.
The irony is that Dr. King was largely against capitalism as a system. Here are some quotes from Dr. King if you want to know some of what he said. More to the point, Drum Major Instinct actually references Chrysler by name — and not in a flattering way.
Many people on Twitter have already spoken out on the ad:
If you thought that MLK/Dodge commercial was bad, just wait until you see the upcoming Carl's Jr. ad starring Gandhi.
— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) February 5, 2018
Don't use MLK to sell fucking trucks.That ad turned my stomach @Dodge
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) February 5, 2018
"The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism" — Real MLK Jr, 3/3/1967
Buy Dodge trucks — Fake MLK Jr, 2/4/2018
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) February 5, 2018
Here's the really interesting part: "The Drum Major's Instinct" actually speaks out against the message of the advertisement by calling out Chrysler specifically.
"Do you ever see people buy cars that they can't even begin to buy in terms of their income? (Amen) [laughter] You've seen people riding around in Cadillacs and Chryslers who don't earn enough to have a good T-Model Ford. (Make it plain) But it feeds a repressed ego."
Feeds a repressed ego, indeed.
This is a hilarious oversight on the part of Fiat Chrysler. They use a sermon from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to sell their cars that calls them out for feeding destructive instincts in the populace.
It's gauche beyond belief that Fiat Chrysler thought it a good idea to use a speech from the late Dr. King to begin with. However, given that this has inevitably drawn more attention to a speech that denounces Chrysler as a product, it does feel nice that the late Dr. King gets the last laugh.
Read the full text of "The Drum Major Instinct" when you get the chance. The man was known as a great orator, among a great many other things, for a good reason.