|Ram trucks logo|
During the 2018 Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, Ram trucks decided to air a controversial advertisement called Built to Serve. Ram wanted to make a lasting impression on its audience because during the 2018 Super Bowl it cost a company upwards of five million dollars to air a commercial. This is a lot of money for a 30-second commercial. In order for a commercial to stick out to its viewers, it needs to include a little something extra to catch the audience's attention. The Super Bowl commercial affected the 111.3 million people who watched the Super Bowl. Many users on social media also found the advertisement to be tasteless while other users chose to defend Ram's actions. One user wrote on Twitter, "Not sure MLK's dream was to drive a Dodge Ram." Another user wrote, "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. Finally, another Twitter user wrote Does the Martin Luther King Jr. Dodge come with the Rosa Parallel Parks assist feature? Because if not you can keep it." Another user wrote Who the heck green-lighted that tasteless commercial. Fire them before the end of the game and issue an apology." One user who decided to defend Ram said, "I see the ad as their trying to show respect to black people military, and sell their product. Maybe it wasn't perfect to you but I'm not offended that they tried. On top of these tweets, The King Center also released another statement surrounding the commercial. They said," Neither the King Center nor Bernice King is the entity that approves the use of MLK words or imagery for use in merchandise, entertainment (movies, music, artwork, etc.) or advertisement, including tonight’s Ram Super Bowl commercial." Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the company that owns Ram, on Super Bowl night defending the commercial. On February 7th, 2018, just three days after the Super Bowl the Morning Consult decided to release a poll about the Ram Super Bowl commercial. In the poll, consisting of 1579 U.S adults who viewed the ad, 48 percent of African-Americans said that the ad gave them a more favorable view of Ram. This can be compared to the 36 percent of whites who said the advertisement gave them a more favorable view of Ram.
|The Drum Major Instinct: The speech that the|
Ram commercial is derived from.
The stakeholders that were affected by the Ram trucks controversy were the people watching the game on television or streaming it on their computer. They would be considered stakeholders because they would be able to form their own opinion on the commercial and would be able to express their beliefs about the commercial on social media or on the internet. Another important stakeholder, in this case, would be the stockholders of FIAT-Chrysler. This might be the biggest stakeholder as seen with the stock price. On February 2nd, the Friday before the Super Bowl, Fiat Chrysler stock price was $22.30. On February 5th, the Monday after the Super Bowl, Fiat Chrysler stock price was 21.29. Another stakeholder in this controversy would be the suppliers of Ram. They would be considered a stakeholder because depending on how they felt about this sensitive issue of race some suppliers may not want to do business with Ram. Another stakeholder would be the employees of Fiat- Chrysler. They would be considered stakeholders because they are the ones making the products. Finally, another stakeholder would be the consumers of the trucks. They would be considered stakeholders because they own at least one of the company’s products. A companies decisions will always affect the consumers.
Individualism states that the only goal of a business is to profit while staying in law. An individualist would look at Ram's case and say that it is ethically impermissible. They would feel this way because even though that Ram stayed within the law this commercial ultimately took away from the profits of the stockholders. This can be seen in the stock prices between February 2nd and February 5th. The stock prices between these three days went down about a dollar per share. Even though that a dollar per share seems relatively small it is a huge amount when an investor has tens of thousands of shares in a company.
Utilitarianism states that all actions aim at something that is good and happiness is what everything boils down to. Utilitarianism is maximizing happiness in yourself and in other people. A utilitarian thinker would view this case as ethically impermissible because they took away the happiness of the consumer and the shareholders. Ram took away the happiness of the shareholders by losing them money they worked hard for. This can be seen when they lost 14 percent of sales in February. It can also be seen when the stock price fell about a dollar per share after the Super Bowl. They also took away from the happiness of the customer by creating a bad reputation for the company. By doing this loyal truck owners might want to switch to another truck manufacturer.
|Martin Luther King Jr. and a Ram truck.|
Kantianism states to act rationally, allow people to make their own rational decisions, respect people, their autonomy, individual needs, and be motivated by Good Will, seeking to do what is right because it is right. Another piece to Kantianism is the formula of humanity, it states that you should never treat people as a means to an end, and to respect people and never take advantage of them. A Kant thinker would view this case as ethically permissible because they are allowing people who viewed the commercial to make their own rational decisions about the advertisement. They were motivated by Good Will in the fact that they wanted to shed some light on a sensitive issue and wanted to get people to talk about it.
Virtue theory focuses on four virtues to determine if an act or person be deemed unethical or ethical. The four virtues are courage, honesty, temperance/self-control, and justice/fairness. In the case of Ram, they abided by some of the virtues but not all of them. They were courageous as they attempted to shine a light on the issue of race in the United States. Ram was not honest in the commercial as they eliminated parts of Martin Luther King Jr. speech that had to do with advertisers and buying cars. Ram didn't execute justice or fairness in the controversy. We can see this when they eliminated parts of Martin Luther King’s speech about advertisers and buying cars and only promoted the part about service. Finally, Ram showed self-control directly after the Super Bowl when the controversy surrounding the ad was brewing. Instead of not defending themselves and letting everyone debate about the commercial, Ram decided to release a statement defending their actions, to the public.
Bach, N. (2018, February 5). Dodge Ram Defends Its Super Bowl 2018 Ad Featuring MLK Speech. Retrieved April 07, 2018, from http://fortune.com/2018/02/05/super-bowl-commercials-2018-dodge-ram-mlk/
Bailey, S. P. (2018, February 05). Martin Luther King Jr. sermon used in a Ram Trucks Super Bowl commercial draws backlash. Retrieved April 07, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/02/04/super-bowl-dodge-commercial-draws-backlash-for-using-a-sermon-from-the-rev-martin-luther-king-jr/
Chapman, M. (2018, February 07). Controversial Ram truck Super Bowl ad might have gotten something right. Retrieved April 07, 2018, from http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/ct-autos-ram-super-bowl-ad-demographic-20180206-story.html
Gronewold, A. (2018, February 07). Here's How Americans Actually Reacted to Ram's Super Bowl Ad. Retrieved April 07, 2018, from https://morningconsult.com/2018/02/07/african-americans-view-ram-truck-ad-with-mlk-more-favorably-than-other-groups/
Hafner, J. (2018, February 05). People are hating the Ram Super Bowl ad using MLK's speech. This is why. Retrieved April 07, 2018, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/Ad-Meter/2018/02/04/ram-super-bowl-ad-uses-martin-luther-king-jr-sell-trucks-rubs-some-wrong-way/305685002/
Hiltzik, M. (2018, February 05). That Ram Trucks Super Bowl ad shows it's time to loosen the King family's grip on MLK's legacy. Retrieved April 07, 2018, from http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-dodge-martin-luther-king-20180205-story.html
Lopez, G. (2018, February 05). Someone edited Ram's Martin Luther King commercial with what King actually said about car ads. Retrieved April 07, 2018, from https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/5/16973630/super-bowl-martin-luther-king-ram-commercial
Maheshwari, S. (2018, February 05). Ram Trucks Commercial With Martin Luther King Jr. Sermon Is Criticized. Retrieved April 07, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/business/media/mlk-commercial-ram-dodge.html