The Ram Trucks ad featuring the voice of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that aired during the Super Bowl seems to have impressed no one.
A post from the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change said neither the center nor its CEO, Rev. Bernice King, would have been the source to sign off on commercial use.
Over the past decade, a number of lawsuits have pitted King siblings against each other.
In 2014, Dexter and Martin Luther King III outvoted their sister in favor of selling items including their father’s 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and his Bible, which former President Barack Obama used during his second swearing in. After Bernice King protested, the family ended up in court, with former President Jimmy Carter brought in to help mediate. (Read AJC reporter Jeremy Redmon’s article about the dispute here).
Bernice King posted a link to the entire speech and urged people to study her father’s sermons and speeches.
She represented the family at last year’s unveiling of the statue of her father in downtown Atlanta. Her brothers did not attend.
Intellectual Properties Management is the licenser of the King estate. Dexter Scott King is the organization’s CEO and CFO and, as of 2011, Bernice King is the secretary, according to documents on file with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. Prior to that year, Dexter King also was listed as secretary, documents show.
In a statement to media outlets and posted to Ram Trucks’ Twitter account, managing director Eric D. Tidwell explained how the automaker obtained the legal OK to use the late King’s voice.
“We found that the overall message of the ad embodied Dr. King’s philosophy that true greatness is achieved by serving others,” Tidwell’s statement read. Read the entire statement here.
The ad, titled “Built to Serve,” features audio from a fiery, inspiring public oration not long before King was shot to death, and modern clips of people helping others. The trucks only appear briefly a couple of times, and the suggestion seems to be their highest use is in serving others – transporting relief materials to storm victims, for example.
(Scroll down to see the ad).
Still, the Super Bowl spot immediately sparked commentary on social media, with lots of people angry and some just plain baffled.