Martin Luther King Jr.: the Mercedes Salesman?

The civil rights leader is one of the unlikely stars of a new ad for Mercedes-Benz. Is it inappropriate?

Getty Images

by Paul Farhi

Martin Luther King Jr.: preacher, civil rights icon, martyr -- and German luxury-car pitchman?

Well, yes. The modern champion of racial emancipation is one of the unlikely stars of a new ad for Mercedes-Benz that uses some famous faces and evokes some historical moments, real and staged, on behalf of the automaker's most advanced, and most expensive, new model.

Grainy footage of King, arms raised in mid-oratory, appears briefly in the commercial, followed by flashes of others in a similar posture, including Muhammad Ali dancing around a fallen ring opponent, the late maestro Leonard Bernstein in concert and tennis star Roger Federer falling to his knees to celebrate a victory. There's also a snippet of people raising their arms in triumph during the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and a re-created scene of technicians exulting over the Apollo moon landing in 1969.


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