When Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a sermon imploring hearers to imitate the servanthood of Jesus, he probably didn't envision them buying Ram trucks to do so.
And yet there was King's voice Sunday night, booming through millions of TV speakers during Ram's latest Super Bowl ad:
"If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That's a new definition of greatness."
The speech, delivered 50 years ago on Feb. 4, 1968, served to inspire a Ram Trucks ad of American workers wiping brows, fishing and riding horses, doing pushups and, of course, driving ram Trucks.
After King's speech culminates, the ad's tagline appears: Built to serve.
The use of King's sermon to sell trucks did not sit well with many viewers, who voiced reactions ranging from uneasiness to repulsion.
Not everyone seemed to oppose the ad, however:
As reporter Kate Aronoff noted, King himself discourages listeners from overspending for automobiles in the very same sermon Ram sampled. A new Ram 1500 can cost about $27,000.