I can understand the need for City co-operation for big shoots or movies, but that the shot in the desert required somebody doing all that mucking about - and paying money for it to boot - boggles the mind.
What in hell is the world coming to?
Rob, it is not just a desert, but a national park. And there is a quite reasonable explanation why the permit is needed. Government writing style is usually rather dry, but this time I felt I shall let them state their case in their own words (bold emphasis mine):"...While... National Park encompasses some of the most unique, spectacular and ecologically and culturally significant resources in the world, these resources are extremely fragile and irreplaceable. These include not only tangible resources, such as wildlife, plants, bodies of waters, thermal and other geological features, historic buildings and archeological sites, but also intangible values such as tranquility, solitude, wide open spaces, sounds of nature, and clear night skies. The National Park Service (NPS) is mandated to protect all resources, "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations" (16 U.S.C. 1). For this purpose the Department of Interior developed RM-53, to govern filming, photography and sound recordings in national parks.
... While... [national park] offers a vast range of unparalleled film and photographic opportunities, these activities are subject to certain restrictions and considerations and require close supervision in the interest of protecting the park’s rare and delicate resources, while ensuring visitor experiences are not impacted.
By "supervision" they have in mind assigning a ranger to the crew for the duration of their stay.
As if it is not enough that ads are everywhere*, driving us crazy on a daily basis, the last thing I would like to encounter while in a national park (apart from bears and mountain lions, of course) is the scene of shooting one of those commercials, thank you very much. And if I have to, at least I can take solace in knowing they had to pay for it.
In this particular case, since the Joshua tree is barely visible in the ad, they could have found a similar one anywhere near the park, without all the hassle.
P.S. If I were in charge, I would have increased their fee tenfold, as a punishment for the cheesy ad line. Camel toe!? Seriously!?
* How about this for extreme ad placement: airport bathroom mirrors!?