If you watched this year’s Super Bowl in California, Delaware, Michigan or Washington, you may have noticed a series of Tesla commercials.
No, the ads are not promoting Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company. On the contrary, the ads specifically called on viewers to “Boycott Tesla.”
In case you missed those ads or are outside of those regions, Mashable has embedded the two Tesla ads below.
Ads are created by The Dawn Project, an organization whose website motto is listed as “Making Computing Safe for Humanity”. Project Dawn has specifically targeted Tesla over the years. If you look at their website now, it almost entirely draws attention to criticism of Tesla in addition to the two Super Bowl ads.
The group is backed by tech entrepreneur Dan O’Dowd, himself a longtime critic of Tesla.
According to The Washington PostO’Dowd paid half a million dollars to air Super Bowl “Boycott Tesla” ads in target markets.
The “Boycott Tesla” ads are striking to watch
If this all sounds familiar, it’s because O’Dowd and The Dawn Project ran ads against Tesla during last year’s Super Bowl as well. Last year’s ads focused on how tests found Tesla’s self-driving software caused the vehicle to run past school bus stop signs and hit child-sized crash test dummies.
But this time The Dawn Project didn’t have to refer to a test script. Two short months after last year’s ad aired, the same school bus scenario played out in real life when Tesla used Autopilot struck A 17-year-old in North Carolina while getting off his bus. The school bus had its stop sign off and flashing lights on. The Dawn Project accents this incident in one of his two Super Bowl commercials this year.
The second ad from The Dawn Project is even more impressive as it draws viewers’ attention to the Tesla owner’s manual, which notes where it’s safe to use Autopilot.
“Tesla is moving 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 highways,” the ad said, pointing out how the government has asked Tesla to limit its use of Autopilot only to highways.
“Shockingly, Tesla refused,” the ad said, referring to the government’s request. The Super Bowl ad then referenced fatal accidents involving Tesla vehicles that were using Autopilot at the time of the crash.
Tesla fans often point to O’Dowd’s business partnership with another company, Mobileye, which makes competing self-driving software, to question O’Dowd’s credibility. The Washington Post previously reported that his “motivation is driven solely by his concerns about the safety of Tesla’s technology.”
Regardless of the messenger’s intentions, The Dawn Project’s ads refer to actual real-life events. And “Boycott Tesla” is the organization’s response to a company that appears to have ignored safety measures.