The brand used a segment from King’s ‘Drum Major Instinct’ sermon to promote its 'Built To Serve' volunteer program, but many were offended by the icon’s attachment to the auto ad.
Controversy emerged around whether the brand should have used the sermon, and whether it had permission from the King estate. As the argument unfolded, Current Affairs magazine released an edited version of the creative.
Its video, ‘What Martin Luther King Actually Thought About Car Commercials’ took the Dodge footage and redubbed it with a powerful takedown of commercialism, advertising – and the auto industry, taken from the same Drum Major Instinct speech used in the Dodge spot.
The transcript reads: ‘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 or 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.”
King concludes: “I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit.”
On why it edited the ad, the mag tweeted.
turns out king's actual dream was that little children of all races could someday be united in their love for big-ass gas-guzzling pickup trucks https://t.co/jCUAjyP8X2
— Current Affairs (@curaffairs) February 5, 2018
beyond cheapening MLK and erasing the meaning of his words, this is also a good reminder of the basic lessons of how emotional manipulation in advertising functions, as explained here by chomsky. pic.twitter.com/2a2LikdelO — Current Affairs (@curaffairs) February 5, 2018
Here is the original ad for comparison.