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‘Boycott Tesla’ ads aired during Super Bowl 2024 spotlight self-driving dangers

If you were watching this year’s Super Bowl in California, Delaware, Michigan, or Washington DC, you may have noticed a series of ads about Tesla.

No, the ads were not promoting Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company. Instead, the ads specifically called on viewers to “boycott Tesla.”

In case you missed those announcements or are outside of those regions, Mashable has integrated the two Tesla announcements below.

The ads were created by The dawn project, an organization whose motto on its website is “Making computers safe for humanity.” Project Dawn has explicitly targeted Tesla over the years. If you go to his website now, it practically draws attention to his criticism of Tesla, in addition to his two Super Bowl ads.

The group is backed by tech entrepreneur Dan O’Dowd, a longtime critic of Tesla.

According to the Washington PostO’Dowd paid half a million dollars to air “Boycott Tesla” Super Bowl ads in target markets.

‘Boycott Tesla’ Ads Are Surprising to See

If this all sounds familiar, it’s because O’Dowd and The Dawn Project ran anti-Tesla ads. during last year’s Super Bowl also. Last year’s announcements focused on how tests found that Tesla’s self-driving software caused the vehicle to run through school bus stop signs and hit child-sized crash test dummies.

However, this time, The Dawn Project didn’t have to reference a test scenario. Two months after last year’s ad aired, the same school bus scenario played out in real life when a 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 its flashing lights on. The dawn project reflexes this incident in one of his two Super Bowl ads this year.

The second ad for The Dawn Project is even more surprising as it draws viewers’ attention to the Tesla owner’s manual that indicates where it is safe to use Autopilot.

“Tesla avoids liability in Autopilot accidents by pointing out a note buried deep in the owner’s manual that says Autopilot is only safe on highways,” the ad says, noting how the government has requested that Tesla limit the Use autopilot only on highways.

“Surprisingly, Tesla refused,” the ad says, referring to the government’s request. The Super Bowl ad then references fatal accidents involving Tesla vehicles that were using Autopilot at the time of the accident.

Tesla fans frequently point to O’Dowd’s business partnership with another company, Mobileye, which makes competing self-driving software, to question O’Dowd’s credibility. Washington Post previously reported that his “motivation is driven solely by his concerns about the security of Tesla’s technology.”

Regardless of the intentions of the messenger, The Dawn Project advertisements reference real, factual events. And “Boycott Tesla” is the organization’s response to a company that has apparently ignored safety precautions.

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