If you were watching this year’s Super Bowl in California, Delaware, Michigan, or Washington D.C., you may have noticed a series of ads about Tesla.
No, the ads weren’t promoting Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company. On the contrary, the ads were specifically calling for viewers to “Boycott Tesla.”
In case you missed those ads or are located outside of those regions, Mashable has embedded the two Tesla ads below.
The ads were created by The Dawn Project, an organization whose website’s motto is listed as “Making Computers Safe For Humanity.” The Dawn Project has explicitly targeted Tesla over the years. If you check out their website now, it’s pretty much entirely drawing attention to its Tesla criticism in addition to its two Super Bowl ads.
The group is backed by tech entrepreneur Dan O’Dowd, a longtime Tesla critic himself.
According to the Washington Post, O’Dowd paid half a million dollars to air the “Boycott Tesla” Super Bowl ads in the targeted markets.
The ‘Boycott Tesla’ ads are striking to watch
If this all sounds familiar to you, that’s because O’Dowd and The Dawn Project ran anti-Tesla ads during last year’s Super Bowl as well. Last year’s ads focused on how tests found that Tesla’s self-driving software resulted in the vehicle blowing past school bus stop signs and hitting child-sized crash test dummies.
However, this time, The Dawn Project didn’t have to reference a test scenario. Two short months after last year’s ad aired, the same school bus scenario played out in real life when a Tesla using Autopilot struck a 17-year-old in North Carolina as he was getting off his bus. The school bus had its stop sign out and flashing lights on. The Dawn Project highlights this incident in one of its two Super Bowl ads for this year.
The second ad from The Dawn Project is even more striking as it draws viewers’ attention to the owner’s manual for Tesla that notes where Autopilot usage is safe to engage.
“Tesla dances away from liability in Autopilot crashes by pointing to a note buried deep in the owner’s manual that says Autopilot is only safe on freeways,” says the ad, pointing out how the government has requested that Tesla limit Autopilot use only to freeways.
“Shockingly, Tesla refused,” the ad says, referring to the government’s request. The Super Bowl ad then goes on to reference fatal accidents involving Tesla vehicles that were using Autopilot at the time of their crash.
Tesla fans frequently refer to O’Dowd’s business partnership with another company, Mobileye, which makes competing autonomous driving software, to question O’Dowd’s credibility. The Washington Post previously reported that his “motivation is driven purely by his concerns about the safety of Tesla’s tech.”
Regardless of the messenger’s intentions, The Dawn Project’s ads reference real-life, factual events. And “Boycott Tesla” is the organization’s response to a company that has seemingly ignored safety precautions.
During this year’s Super Bowl, viewers in California, Delaware, Michigan, and Washington D.C. were exposed to a series of ads calling for a boycott of Tesla. These ads were not promoting Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company, but rather criticizing its safety precautions. The ads, created by The Dawn Project, highlighted incidents where Tesla’s self-driving software failed to stop at school bus stop signs, including a real-life incident where a Tesla using Autopilot struck a 17-year-old in North Carolina. The second ad drew attention to the owner’s manual, which states that Autopilot is only safe to use on freeways. The Dawn Project accuses Tesla of ignoring safety precautions and refusing to limit Autopilot use as requested by the government. The organization is backed by tech entrepreneur Dan O’Dowd, who has been a longtime critic of Tesla. Despite questions about O’Dowd’s credibility due to his business partnership with a competing autonomous driving software company, The Dawn Project’s ads reference real-life events and aim to raise awareness about what they perceive as safety issues with Tesla.