Most Painful Super Bowl Ad

Last night’s Super Bowl was just what the NFL needed: an exciting, well-played game, largely devoid of controversy, full of compelling drama.

The ads, however, were duds. The Alexa commercial was clever. The NFL’s house ads with Eli Manning and Odell Beckham brought a chuckle or two. Some, though not many, thought the Tide commercials scored points.

Yet one ad drew criticism before the next snap of the football: Ram’s ad with a Martin Luther King, Jr. voice over. Although I’m willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to Ram and say that the ad was designed with good intentions, I have a list of reasons why it’s cringeworthy. Your thoughts? I’m also interested in your thoughts about what makes a Super Bowl ad good.

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15 Responses to Most Painful Super Bowl Ad

  1. August Andre says:

    This ad was beautiful and well written. The photographed sequences were stunning images of hard working men and women of all classes and cultural backgrounds.

    Until…
    the RAM…

    THE FREAKING RAM…

    Okay, so I don’t approve of the use of this video as an advertisement because I think it defeats the eternal goal of the video although I believe RAM did this without the intention of offending people.

  2. Kendra Bradley says:

    I do not think this commercial was made with any kind of patronizing connotations, but that is what happened. When watching the commercial, before realizing the objective of the commercial, I thought it was beautiful. There was a lot of “look at these hard working people. They are the goal of our country. This is where we find out common ground.” And then… they whip out a $50,000 full sized show truck? It is insensitive and kind of ridiculous to make a commercial about the working class and then imply that they could buy this truck. In general, the best Super Bowl commercials are light and funny for everyday non-necessities. They are also a good place to air the deep commercials, such as the beginning of the Ram commercial, for causes. Not for things we don’t need.

  3. I liked the Super Bowl game, but I almost pay zero attention to the ads; they are full of excrement. I really just wanted to watch the game, and I understand you are trying to persuade viewers of being aware and consuming your product, but please be mindful of the manner in which you do so because that will create backlash and defeat the purpose of the whole advertisement.

  4. Sabrina Solomon says:

    Although I thought I already answered this, it appears not, so here goes. I think a great Superbowl ad consists of some laughter and some sort of attention drawer. It has to connect to a well-known brand. Some of my favorite ads over the years have been from M&Ms, Budweiser, and Doritos. Out of all of the Superbowl ads I watched this year, my favorite was the Alexa commercial. Some commercials, like Budweiser, stay true to their brand every year. Others, like RAM, tend to want change and hope to get some change out of it. But, causing controversy is not a way to increase views or even number of products sold. It is disrespectful to think that someone as great as MLK Jr. can be used to voice over such a strong white truck company. In no way are they related. It caused controversy and thought about racial issues in today’s society. However, people lose interest if it is not funny, heartwarming, new, and entertaining. Heck, that’s what the Superbowl is all about, right?

  5. Raymond Zeng says:

    If you guys ever read the entire “The Drum Major Instinct” speech or at least this part of this speech, you will see that the speech was in part about consumerism and ego.

    “Now the presence of this instinct explains why we are so often taken by advertisers. 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. (Make it plain) 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. (Yes) That’s the way the advertisers do it.
    …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.”

    Dodge took this speech and cut it down to the opposite of what Dr. King was speaking against. Either the person who made this is either tone deaf or has bad taste.

    Aside from that, that commercial was pretty much dull.

  6. Dev Jaiswal says:

    I can see immediately why this advertisement drew the criticism that it did. I think it was rather inappropriate for RAM to boil down one of the greatest speeches of all time, given to address issues of inequality and civil rights within American society, to trucks. The historical context of this speech has monumental significance to the American story, and the correlation of this speech to trucks makes it seem like RAM does not have as much of an appreciation for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiring words as they should. I’m not entirely sure what makes a good Super Bowl ad, seeing as I have never watched the Super Bowl, but I surmise that it is one that combines advertisement with rollicking humor that strays well clear of being potentially offensive.

  7. Millie Perdue says:

    Good commercials are very hard to find these days. I feel that it is very difficult to truly master the good yet appropriate humor with today’s society being how it is. While I feel that the message behind the advertisement that used Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s speech was good, inspiring even, I don’t believe that the ad should have used it. That speech was meant for a specific reason, and that reason is what put it in history books, the reason was equality during 1960’s. While the speech still has relevance and stands as one of the best ever given, it has its sole meaning. In my personal opinion, that meaning shouldn’t be watered down to shape the mold of the idea trying to be given in the super bowl ad. A truly good ad will come from humor that doesn’t insult, good messages that aren’t masked behind another’s fame, and ones that use the extremely rare element of common sense.

  8. Loveish Sarolia says:

    The use of Dr. King’s speech detracts from the overall message of the advertisement. Although Super Bowl ads are notorious for edgy ads, the use of historical events in something as frivolous as a Super Bowl ad is a disrespect of the true meaning behind the event. I honestly didn’t find as much enjoyment this year from the super bowl as I usually do, I believe it was partially due to the lack of interesting super bowl ads. I usually find the ads interesting but this year it seems as if advertisers gave up on them. There aren’t as many ads that are being talked about as there were the years past. I feel as if the entire idea of super bowl ads is slowly declining.

  9. Lane Hughes says:

    The use of historical figures in advertisements to promote commerce in 2018 seems like a recipe for disaster. Any use of something or someone THAT controversial is bound to definitely turn some heads, but turning heads isn’t always a good thing, as in this case. Now, as for one of the best Super Bowl ads: year by year, the M&M’s commercials have been the best by far. This year’s ad is a prime example. The M&M’s company used Danny DeVito and a lucky penny to create one of the most humorous ads of 2018. Personally speaking, I feel that anything involving Danny DeVito is comedy gold, which is why I felt that this was the best ad of the Super Bowl.

  10. Tija Johnson says:

    I, too, feel as if the ad was created with great intentions, BUT I don’t feel using Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech was the best fit to accomplish their goal. I understand they were trying to commemorate the special day but that wasn’t and never will be the appropriate way to do it. I loved how the visuals explored different types of serving while having his speech playing in the background. His speech is packed with heartfelt, moving words that meant everything to people of his time and present day. They can NEVERRRR compare what a truck can do to what Martin Luther King Jr. did for this country. This is a man who dedicated his life to people and for people he knew (and ones he didn’t know.) This is a truck that will soon be replaced by flying cars. -_- Ultimately, the commercial doesn’t tie the usage of the truck to connect to this message. They frankly flashed scenes of a truck. So thanks but no thanks.

  11. Ihatepolitics says:

    Using figures like MLK Jr. i feel is disrespectful for these types of adds. If it was for a company that like google i feel like it would be more except able. Google likes to highlight creators and people of historic interest. Ram on the other hand just wants to sell trucks. They can’t even use it in the form that it is a family car because trucks are used by one singular person rather than a family. I also thought the tide commercials where cleaver because it showed you that marketing puts products in other adds.

  12. Brianna Leigh Ladnier says:

    This commercial rarely touched on the main purpose of any commercial, highlighting certain aspects of your product. Instead, the Ram company decided to take a speech from a well-beloved man who fought for the rights of Americans were being oppressed, and the company turned it into a marketing scheme. The commercial was irrelevant and disrespectful in terms of Martin Luther King Jr. and his work, and it is simply offensive. I do not share the same experiences as many who benefited from Dr. King’s speeches, but I know for a fact his accomplishments will never include selling or promoting Ram trucks, and it should have stayed that way.

  13. Kaelon McNeece says:

    The ultimate goal of a Super Bowl advertisement is to provide a corporate persuasion tactic with the one goal of bettering a brand or product. Regardless of how selfless or humanitarian the message is, it’s impossible to miss the distinguishable Ram logo reminding you that the brand, and the products, are “Build to Serve.” Sure the advertisement could’ve had the best of intentions, but because the newest Ram truck is seen all throughout the commercial, it can be clearly seen that the advertisement is made with at least one goal being to sell trucks (with other goals being possibly to share whatever vague “serving” message the advertisement was trying to get across). With this in mind, I do share the same concerns presented with the backlash to this advertisement. Using the words of a world-changing man of love that refused to see a person beyond the contents of their heart to sell a new shiny truck seems abhorrently wrong. Any message of peace, love, and understanding of the human race falls flat to the clear cash-grab Ram is using this ad as.
    As to what makes a good Super Bowl ad good, I believe that it should be a decent focus on any emotion that can captivate an audience whether it be humor, sadness, or happiness. However, the main focus needs to be entertainment. If an audience loses attention, the advertisement will lose its effectiveness and it will ultimately fall under the radar as it’s overshadowed by Super Bowl party banter.

  14. Dez Jones says:

    When will they learn Dr. Easterling? I, for one, am so tired of seeing others use black culture for their own personal gain. Martin Luther King Jr. was an iconic figure in the black community who advocated for basic human rights and, needless to say, he should not be placed in a RAM truck ad. They should be telling me how many miles per gallon I can get or how it can get me up a really steep hill– I know what King did, tell me what the truck can do! I guess the manufacturers wanted to appeal to black people because they realized the only people we see with these trucks are white people that look like lumberjacks and have Confederate flags waving on the back of them. And speaking of white people that look like lumberjacks, our halftime show host, Justin Timberlake, is in the same boat as the RAM company, the “I Owe the Black Community an Apology” boat. Justin Timberlake, for years, has been trying to get in good with the black community by recording singles with rapper T.I. and making the hit upbeat song “Suit & Tie” with rapper Jay-Z. Now he’s completely re-branded by shaving his head, growing a beard, strapping on his cowboy boots, and creating an album titled “Man of the Woods”; it’s like he’s saying, “Okay I had fun over there with the blacks, but white people, I’m home!” I kept waiting for him to say “Git ‘er don'” during the show… And how can we forget about Miley Cyrus’s “Bangerz” period where she was rapping with Wiz Khalifa, sporting dreads, and twerking on Robin Thicke? But then she left all that behind to start singing about life on the farm or something. It’s like they just try on “blackness” for a little while and once they’ve sucked up all the culture and made so much money to where they see no more use for it, they simply discard it. I can’t just “take off my blackness” (not that I desire to), so it’s such an insult to watch celebrities do this.

  15. Jacob Lee says:

    I believe any advertisement or entertainment piece that utilizes some historic speech or moment for gain is just wrong. First of all, it takes away from the creativity that should go into such things; in this case its essentially someone creating a photo montage and pasting with a world renowned speech that changed history. Secondly, it demeans the historical even being put to use. I don’t think the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspiring change throughout America should be equated to a truck. As far as Super Bowl ads go, what makes a good one can be a difficult question to answer. Most companies aim for something with a humorous aspect because it is the easiest entertainment style to master in such a short amount of footage. With movies and TV shows, that may be different, but crafting something that can move people and inspire them to think or do something can be difficult in a minute long video. I think the best ad would be something that could do that–not an ad that uses Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, but an ad that can make people feel the same way his speech made his audience feel.

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