On Monday, we reported on the generally negative response that RAM’s “Built to Serve” Super Bowl LII advertisement garnered from much of the public. Using the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to sell the all-new, 2019 RAM 1500 was poorly received by many Americans, it would seem, and the King sermon of choice for the ad was especially ironic given that it was highly critical of advertisers, even specifically decrying carmakers.
But Vince Bond Jr., Automotive News‘ Marketing/Digital Dealer, had a very different reaction to the commercial: gratitude.
“I had never heard this MLK passage, and was encouraged by the words,” he explained in a recent editorial. “I have no gripes with FCA trying to find a connection point to such a towering figure whose sacrifices have made my life so much easier than previous generations of African-Americans.”
Bond went on to write that he perceived Fiat Chrysler’s RAM Super Bowl spot as a “well-meaning attempt… to put a cultural stake in the ground that would be remembered for years to come.”
Bond’s take on the commercial doesn’t appear to be in line with the majority; on the Ram Trucks YouTube page, the ad currently has approximately 4k likes to 11k dislikes, suggesting that more people are critical of the advertisement than find it heartwarming. That said, the fact that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Drum Major Instinct” sermon – an excerpt from which underlies the ad – goes on to criticize commercial advertising in some later passage doesn’t take away from the overall message of the ad: that around North America, the light-duty pickup helps support countless people who perform noble, altruistic work, and that there is perhaps no greater calling.
“FCA should be commended for trying to create an uplifting spot during a tense time in the country’s history,” Vince Bond Jr. wrote. “I’ve tried, but I simply can’t see the drawbacks of using the Super Bowl to project MLK’s words to more than 100 million people. Especially when some, like me, had never heard those words before.”