Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
"We need to make a big splash for Super Bowl!"
"Hey, I've got an idea! Let's tell America that God drives Ram trucks in Heaven!"
"Yeah, I don't know about God. He's a bit of a controversial figure. How about Martin Luther King? No one can say anything bad about him. I know we can't have him driving the truck, but we can use of one his speeches. Everyone loves his speeches!"
"Yeah! And I'm sure we can work in the truck somehow. How about calling the ad: I HAVE A (D)R(E)AM?!"
That's how I imagine the Dodge Ram Super Bowl commercial--the one that launched a thousand unhappy tweets--was created.
Should you be a New England Patriots fan who couldn't cope with the game, here's the ad in all its glory.
Yes, this was an emotional speech in which Dr. King didn't just utter those words about being a servant to society, but also railed against capitalism and, oh, the idea of buying expensive cars, ones that you can't afford.
Still, isn't it a little stunning that those who created this oeuvre didn't apparently stop to think about the effect it might have?
Here are some of the reactions:
Dodge for real just used an MLK Jr. speech to show a bunch of white people doing random stuff around trucks so 2018 is going well.-- Whitney McIntosh (@WhitneyM02) February 5, 2018
Does the Martin Luther King Jr. Dodge come with the Rosa Parallel Parks assist feature? Because if not you can keep it.-- Travon Free (@Travon) February 5, 2018
Dodge seems to have been taken aback by such reactions.
It said it had worked with the Estate of Dr. Martin Luther King, which had been an intimate creative partner to this enterprise.
The problem with the ad, though, was the enterprise.
Let's assume you conclude that it's possible to use King's words or image in a vaguely acceptable way in an ad.
I'm not saying you can. I'm saying that quite a few brands already have.
Apple, for example, used his image in its famous "Here's to the Crazy Ones" ad.
Mercedes did, too, in a 2010 ad.
Let's continue to be charitable.
Let's assume that all Dodge was doing here was recognizing, as the King Estate's manager Eric D. Tidwell told the Washington Post, "the existence of the Ram Nation volunteers and their efforts."
Then, the ad might have simply contained images of hard-working, selfless Americans and a Ram logo at the end with the words: "Ram supports volunteers and their efforts."
Instead, it takes a mere 16 seconds for shots of the Ram truck to intrude.
By the 26th second, we have a beauty shot of the truck going through mud--one you've seen so many times before in truck ads.
That's when you can't help thinking--if you've been trying to give this ad the benefit of the doubt, that is--that these people want you not to recognize the volunteers' work, but to buy a truck.
It isn't the last beauty shot of the truck, either.
I wonder if it's the last we'll see of this ad.