As caretakers of their father's estate, Dexter King and Martin Luther King III had to clear the way for the executor to give Ram the go-ahead to use excerpts from their father's little known sermon, "The Drum Major Instinct".
Did the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based automaker cross the line when it used King's powerful words to sell its new trucks?
"I don't know if Dodge ram should've used it the way they did".
The King Center, which was founded by MLK's wife Coretta Scott King, took to Twitter to point out that they don't have approval rights for use of MLK's words or images, while King's daughter responded with a simple "no" when asked if she'd given her approval.
Dodge Ram's Super Bowl ad offended many. However, in its final moments, the uplifting footage of doctors, soldiers, firefighters, and other helpful professionals gets interrupted by a Ram truck barreling towards the camera, which didn't exactly fit with MLK's message.
William B. Wachtel, a cofounder of the Drum Major Institute (a nonprofit that advances the legacy and work of King), even denounced the use of King's speech in a statement. For one thing, he was appalled by the way many people went into hock to buy vehicles they couldn't possibly afford: "So often, haven't you seen people making $5,000 a year and driving a auto that cost 6,000?" Showing members of the military, police, and others giving back to their communities, and ending with RAM's tagline, "Built to Serve", the ad has drawn significant ire from people online.
"I would have liked it better if they had said something like, 'This reminder of all that we can be, brought to you by'". You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve, you don't have to know the theory of relativity to serve, you don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. "Thus we chose to be a part of Ram's "Built To Serve" Super Bowl program", the firm, Intellectual Properties Management, said in its statement.
Later in the very same sermon, King warned against succumbing to slick advertisers, "those gentlemen of massive verbal persuasion". In order to make your neighbors envious, you must drive this type of vehicle.
"It was a beautifully positive message (broadcast) on Super Bowl Sunday at a time when America needs to come together more than ever", Schiffer said.