This anti-Tesla Super Bowl ad simply received the wrong attention from the NTSB

The National Transportation Safety Board, a U.S. government agency that investigates accidents, has ordered the Dawn Project organization to stop using its seal after it appeared in a Super Bowl ad calling on consumers to boycott Tesla.

The NTSB said in a letter that its seal must be immediately removed from the Dawn Project’s website and YouTube page, as well as from any further airings of the commercial. NTSB said in a news release that it did not authorize use of its seal and does not endorse the work of the Dawn Project.

“We used the NTSB seal in our second Super Bowl LVIII commercial while referencing Tesla’s refusal to implement the NTSB’s prudent safety recommendations, recommendations with which The Dawn Project fully agrees,” it said an emailed statement from a Dawn Project spokesperson. “Unlike Tesla, we have great respect for the NTSB.”

The Dawn Project, a security advocacy group funded by tech CEO Dan O’Dowd, aired two commercials during Super Bowl LVIII in Washington, DC, Dover, Delaware, Santa Barbara, California and Traverse City, Michigan – the city where the US Secretary of Transportation was Pete Buttigieg alive. The cost to air the ads in these markets was $552,000.

The ads criticize Tesla Full Self-Driving advanced driver assistance software, which O’Dowd says has serious safety flaws. FSD is not self-propelled. Instead, the $12,000 system performs some automated driving tasks and requires a human driver to be ready to take control at any time.

The Dawn Project has been campaigning against the use of Tesla FSD for years, including by airing an ad in last year’s Super Bowl. This year, the group used the NTSB seal in its ad, which caught the agency’s attention. NTSB General Counsel William McMurry Jr. called the use unlawful and noted that the commercial was also posted on the group’s website and YouTube page.

The agency also included a screenshot of the ad, shown below.

Photo credit: NTSB

“Because of the nature of our work and the need to be clearly independent of commercial interests, we are committed to protecting the NTSB’s international reputation by preventing unauthorized use of our seal,” the letter said. “Contrary to federal law, you have not received and the NTSB has not granted you permission to use the NTSB seal in your Super Bowl LVIII commercial or on other materials. Additionally, your unauthorized use of the NTSB seal falsely implies the NTSB’s endorsement of your company and/or message.”


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Robert Wilson

Business & economics analyst. Breaking down intricate financial trends for informed decision-making.

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