FCA Makes the Odd Choice to Release a Jeep Super Bowl Commercial That Openly Criticizes Its Ram Super Bowl Commercial
Jeep's popular "Anti-Manifesto" Super Bowl spot mocked car commercials that rely upon famous speeches, such as Ram's controversial "Built to Serve" ad, which featured the words of Martin Luther King Jr.
By now, we’re all accustomed to seeing a number of common commercial types appear during the Super Bowl. One of the most common of these advertisements is the “Manifesto” from automakers.
During these commercials, a speech is delivered by a disembodied narrator loosely related to the values of the brand. Fiat Chrysler is the king of this type of advertising, with the “Imported from Detroit” ad seven years ago and the “Farmer” ad five years ago, which featured Eminem and Paul Harvey, respectively.
Since FCA is so fond of these commercials, it seemed odd when one of the company’s Super Bowl LII ads for Jeep mocked the over-reliance of grandiose speeches during automotive marketing. That criticism isn’t misplaced, however, as Jeep’s cousin Ram released the most controversial Manifesto of recent memory.
Jeep’s ad, entitled the “Anti-Manifesto,” was a 30-second spot featured during the Super Bowl’s fourth quarter. During the spot, voice-over mocks the concept of Manifesto advertisements appealing to basic human truths to sell cars.
What does Jeep offer in place of speeches? The footage of a Jeep Wrangler crossing a lake and climbing up a waterfall!
You can view the ad in its entirety down below:
Of course, if you look closely at the bottom of the screen, you can see the words “closed man-made lake and waterfall” appear. Still, driving a Wrangler over a real lake and waterfall could present environmental concerns, and the commercial’s point is still made this way.
Reception to the “Anti-Manifesto” spot has been very positive, with many calling it “bold” and a nice change of pace from the usual Super Bowl car commercial. Unfortunately, not all of the advertisements that FCA produced were quite so well received.
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Earlier during the second quarter of the game, Ram’s “Built to Serve” advertisement aired. Much like with past Super Bowl ads produced by Ram, this one featured a narrator delivering, what else, a manifesto.
This year’s narrator of choice was none other than Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with the commercial borrowing portions from King’s sermon, “The Drum Major Instinct.” That particular Martin Luther King Jr. sermon was delivered on February 4, 1968, precisely 50 years prior to Super Bowl LII.
The advertisement shows U.S. citizens helping out other members of their community. Meanwhile, King’s words echo that “everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”
You can view the Ram advertisement below:
Ram’s choice to use this particular sermon is somewhat ironic. During “The Drum Major Instinct,” King also warns of the dangers of advertising.
“In order to be a man of distinction, you must drink this whiskey,” King declares. “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. That’s the way the advertisers do it.”
King even called out Chrysler by name, stating “You’ve seen people riding around in Cadillacs and Chryslers who don’t earn enough to have a good T-Model Ford. But it feeds a repressed ego.”
Ram’s choice of King as its featured speaker isn’t just ironic, but controversial. The truck brand has received a daunting amount of criticism from several different sources, including the King Center and Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.
Neither @TheKingCenter nor @BerniceKing is the entity that approves the use of #MLK’s words or imagery for use in merchandise, entertainment (movies, music, artwork, etc) or advertisement, including tonight’s @Dodge #SuperBowl commercial.
— The King Center (@TheKingCenter) February 5, 2018
It should be noted, however, that Ram received permission to run the advertisement from the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. FCA even released a statement regarding the advertisement:
It is 50 years to the day that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave such a tremendous speech about the value of service. Ram was honored to have the privilege of working with the Estate of Martin Luther King Jr. to celebrate those words during the largest TV viewing event annually.
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.
Even if you cast aside the controversy of using civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in an ad to sell Ram trucks, it seems extremely odd for FCA to release one Super Bowl commercial that criticizes another. The “Built to Serve” spot is the exact kind of “Manifesto” that the Jeep Wrangler ad openly mocks.
Hopefully by the time the next Super Bowl rolls around, FCA will have adopted a more cohesive marketing plan. Until then, you can enjoy this edited Ram ad that features Dr. King’s thoughts on advertising:
Zachary Berry currently resides in the Dayton, Ohio area. However, he enjoys traveling from place to place, as he was born in Oklahoma City and has also lived in Albuquerque and Orlando (such is the life of a military brat). Zachary graduated from Ohio University with a major in Strategic Communication, which is fancy talk for advertising and public relations. Beginning his career at The News Wheel as a lowly intern, he was able to climb his way to the top, eventually claiming his place within the last cubicle on the left. Other jobs that Zachary has held include driving around a safari truck at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. When he’s not putting his nose to the grindstone, Zachary enjoys watching and critiquing movies and television. See more articles by Zachary.