The 30-second spot depicts brutal scenes of self-driving Teslas running over child mannequins and baby strollers, driving on the wrong side of the road, and blowing past “Do Not Enter” signs.
The national advertising campaign, which cost $600,000 to air during the Super Bowl, is sponsored by The Dawn Project, a California-based nonprofit that supports the development of computer operating systems that are “safe for humanity.”
The organization has been particularly critical of Tesla’s Full Self-Driving feature, claiming the software poses a threat to passengers and pedestrians.
“Tesla Full Self-Driving will run down a child in a school crosswalk,” a female narrator says in the ad, as a video shows what it claims to be actual “safety test footage” of a Tesla crashing into a child mannequin in the street.
Later in the ad, a Tesla plows into another child mannequin taking its head off.
“Tesla’s Full Self-Driving is endangering the public with deceptive marketing and woefully inept engineering,” the narrator says. Why does NHTSA allow Tesla Full Self-Driving?”
Who’s behind the attack ad?
The Dawn Project was founded by Dan O’Dowd, a billionaire credited with creating the operating systems for projects including Boeing’s 787s, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Fighter Jets, the Boeing B1-B Intercontinental Nuclear Bomber, and NASA’s Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle.
Dowd is also CEO of Green Hills Software, which develops self-driving software.
The foundation’s website shows numerous videos of self-driving Teslas malfunctioning in different road tests. In one video, O’Dowd accuses Tesla founder Elon Musk of running a Ponzi scheme.
What does Elon Musk think of the ad?
Musk seems to be taking it in stride despite the ad’s harsh accusations. During the Super Bowl, cameras caught Musk kicking back in a private box seat with the CEO of News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch.
The company has not directly addressed The Dawn Project, but in response to a tweet by Tesla Owners Silicon Valley that called the ad “fake,” Musk responded with a LOL emoji.
Thank you @RealDanODowd for spending $7M for this $tsla advertisement. It’s very clear that you testing was fake but grateful for spreading the word that Teslas are the leader for general autonomy. @elonmusk pic.twitter.com/Qk7MvJn4c4
— Tesla Owners Silicon Valley (@teslaownersSV) February 12, 2023
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