The National Transportation Safety Board, the US government agency that investigates accidents, has ordered the Dawn Project organization to stop using its seal after it called on consumers to boycott Tesla in a Super Bowl ad.
The NTSB said in a letter that its seal should be immediately removed from the Dawn Project’s website and YouTube page, as well as any other airings of the ad. The NTSB said in a news release that it did not authorize the use of its seal and does not endorse the work of the Dawn Project.
An emailed statement from a Dawn Project spokesperson said, “While we used the NTSB’s seal of approval in our second Super Bowl LVIII ad, we were referring to Tesla’s refusal to implement the NTSB’s prudent safety recommendations , recommendations with which the Dawn Project fully agrees.” “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 ads during Super Bowl LVIII in Washington, D.C., Dover, Delaware, Santa Barbara, California, and Traverse City, Michigan – the city where the American Was the Transport Secretary. Pete Buttigieg lives. The cost of airing the ad in those markets was $552,000.
The ads criticize Tesla full self-driving, advanced driver assistance software, which O’Dowd has accused of having serious safety flaws. FSD is not self-driving. Instead, the advanced $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 campaigned against the use of Tesla FSD for years, including airing an ad in last year’s Super Bowl. This year the group used the NTSB seal in its advertising, which caught the agency’s attention. NTSB General Counsel William McMurry Jr. called the use illegal and said the ad was also posted on the group’s webpage and YouTube page.
The agency also included a screenshot of the ad, shown below.
“Because of the nature of our work and the need to be clearly independent from commercial interests, we strive to protect the NTSB’s international reputation by preventing unapproved uses of our seal,” the letter reads. “Contrary to federal law, you did not obtain permission to use the NTSB seal on your Super Bowl LVIII commercial or any other material, and the NTSB did not grant permission. Additionally, your unauthorized use of the NTSB seal indicates the NTSB’s endorsement of your company and/or message.