Chrysler messed up. The tone-deaf auto brand ran a Super Bowl commercial featuring an out-of-context voiceover from the estate of Martin Luther King.
What the Super Bowl ad failed to include is the part of King’s sermon in which he warns against the dangers of spending too much when buying a car.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles defended the ad, which was made by a Chicago-based boutique ad agency called Highdive, according to AdAge.
“We worked closely with the representatives of the Martin Luther King Jr. estate to receive the necessary approvals and estate representatives were a very important part of the creative process every step of the way,” the company’s statement said.
If you’d like to know what MLK’s 1968 sermon (delivered two months before his assassination) was truly about, here it is:
This is what MLK said during the sermon about the power of advertising to distract people from their true priorities:
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 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.
We live in a mashup culture today, where pieces of some other intellectual or artistic whole are extracted and made part of a new whole. Sometimes, it works wonderfully. Other times, it’s a flop or worse. Knowing that the context of a famous speech is anti-advertising and choosing to use it to sell pickup trucks during the Super Bowl anyway is on another level. A lower level.