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Super Bowl Ads Get Political

UCOMM takes a look at some of the left leaning Super Bowl ads

Brian Young's picture
Feb 06, 2018

During Sunday’s Super Bowl, companies tried to make a statement through their ads. Ram Trucks used Dr. Martin Luther King Jr to sell trucks, T-Mobile used babies to sell phones and promote equality, and Blacture’s founder Pras used censorship to promote his new lifestyle site.

One of the more controversial ads of the night was the Ram ad. Set to the soundtrack of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Drum Major Instinct” sermon, the ad has already set off a debate about the bastardization of the speech. Ram used the speech to promote their “Built to serve” campaign, which showed Ram’s and their owners serving communities in their time of need. The speech, which was delivered exactly 50 years ago from Super Bowl Sunday, seemed a little out of place in a Ram ad.

As many have noted after it aired, “Drum Major Instinct” was a speech against capitalism that specifically called out car ads, including ads from Ram’s parent company Chrysler. Here is what he said in the speech:

But very seriously, it goes through life; the drum major instinct is real. (Yes) And you know what else it causes to happen? It often causes us to live above our means. (Make it plain) It's nothing but the drum major instinct. Do you ever see people buy cars that they can't even begin to buy in terms of their income? (Amen) [laughter] You've seen people riding around in Cadillacs and Chryslers who don't earn enough to have a good T-Model Ford. (Make it plain) But it feeds a repressed ego.

While Ram and Chrysler/Fiat are good union employers that employ tens of thousands of African American’s, this ad glossed over some of the more controversial parts of Dr. King’s activism. In an ironic twist King’s son Dexter, who runs Intellectual Properties Management the company that owns the rights to all of Dr. King’s speeches, licensed a speech attacking capitalism to sell cars. You can watch the entire speech below. 

T-Mobile decided to use the activism that has been seen since Trump got elected to sell cell phones. Starting the ad with a shot of babies of a number of ethnicities, the ad made the point that these children could grow up in a world without racism, hate and with a laundry list of liberal issues like equal pay.

While it is encouraging that T-Mobile sees this kind of world, their reputation does not back it up. As UCOMM has previously reported that not only is T-Mobile extremely anti-union, but they also violated US Labor law by trying to set up a “yellow union” to stop workers from joining the Communications Workers of America.

In the most political ad of the night Pras, a former member of the Fugees, came out on stage blindfolded and gagged, before he ripped them off, locked out at the theatre and the tag line “Be celebrated. Not tolerated” came across the screen. The ad was for his not yet launched website The site will be used to amplify the underserved black voice and to promote up and coming black artists. "Pras is passionate about giving black culture a voice, and, given the controversy surrounding Black Lives Matter that unfolded throughout the NFL season and the conversations taking place in the American political arena, he believes that this is the time for a call to amplify the underserved voices in black culture," said a statement from Pras. The ad was easily the most political one of the night as it made clear that the new site would be used to amplify voices that were being silenced by the NFL and Trump.


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