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Apple Apologizes for Tone-Deaf “Crush!” iPad Pro Ad

At Variety, Todd Spangler writes:

The iPad Pro ad generated fury among many in Hollywood and other creative industries, including Hugh Grant and filmmaker-actor Justine Bateman, who saw it as a vivid and literal illustration of Big Tech laying waste to culture. “The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley,” Grant had posted on X.

On Thursday, Apple issued an apology for the spot.

Although I was primarily perturbed by the ad’s wholesale destruction, I empathize with creatives who saw their instruments, tools, and materials destroyed. Others have commented that the ad was an apt metaphor for how the tech industry sees culture as something to be distilled into a product that can be sold and controlled.

With its imagery of the ephemera of a humanistic world pulverized by an all-powerful machine, “Crush!” feels like the flip side of Apple’s canonical “1984” ad that positioned human-driven technology as our savior from a conformist industrial world. Perhaps Apple thought it was one-upping the YouTube genre of machines destroying everyday objects, but it’s troubling that no one involved realized that a stunt video from one of the world’s wealthiest and most influential companies would be viewed differently.

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Comments About Apple Apologizes for Tone-Deaf “Crush!” iPad Pro Ad

Notable Replies

  1. Wow. The first time I saw Apple’s new ad, I thought it was a parody. It made me think of the old “1984” ad, but for all the wrong reasons.

    The concept certainly is interesting enough that any competent ad agency would have spent time working on variations of it.

    Unfortunately, the released version feels like a warning about the oppressive potential of technology in the hands of giant, soulless corporations, including Apple itself.

  2. Thank you for that! I will post corrections where I mentioned it on Facebook and Mastadon!

  3. This is just about the worst commercial I ever saw, and I worked in advertising my entire career. Steve Jobs, one of the smartest, most intuitive, and most innovative advertisers the world has ever known, is probably turning in his grave over this POS.

  4. Ray

    I watched the presentation last night as I have one on order and wanted to know any details and was astounded on the emotional level of the presentation and all the adjectives used. I know Apple has always been like this, but for some reason it stood out so much this time. Everything they introduce is ready the Change the World.

    I had heard about the commercial spot, but it was still painful to watch. If they hadn’t lingered on everything being crushed, it would have been better.

  5. The “corrections” didn’t make the original abomination any better in the slightest degree. But at least they didn’t make it any worse.

  6. The concept of replacing all of those is good…but the execution is lacking. It’s not bad…but it isn’t good either.

  7. “1984” it ain’t. And it is not even anything near “Think Different” either. Crashing and crushing products that are essential for many creative artists, wannabes, and fans of artists is not good marketing strategy. It’s just plain old anti creativity.

    I just read in Ad Age that Apple is canceling the TV spots they booked for this commercial. But they will have to write big checks to pay for the cancellations. They are probably stuck with paying for almost all of the print ads they already booked and sent to press. I’ll bet it’s probably a MEGA financial disaster.

  8. I didn’t think much of the ad but I think the reactions are a bit ‘over the top’.

    I’m guessing the premise was “all these things are now in the iPad” but displaying it in a destructive way was, well, destructive. If they’d left everything intact and somehow whirlpooled them into an iPad I doubt there’d be any push back.

    Regardless, I imagine someone will pay the price. The agency is probably safe as someone at Apple would have given them a brief and approved the final product. I don’t think it will be a major financial disaster - they’ll just come up with replacement ads and rebook or fulfil their current bookings.

  9. Apple has its own ad agency within an ad agency. The Media Arts Lab is a freestanding part of TBWA, who were the brilliant creatives that unleashed 1984 and really helped “change the world:” Apple is the MAL’s only client:

    Unfortunately at this time the people at MAL do not seem to be as effective or smart as the original TBWA team. TBWA was then a recently born agency which had just began to establish a track record. And with “1984” they really did begin to recreate the advertising world. Unfortunately they created a big disaster in 2024.

    I’ll bet they come up with a better creative scheme soon.

  10. That would have been better received…but snowflakes…ya know. The ad didn’t do anything for me either…but the outrage is way off the reservation.

  11. I brought the commentary about the ad over to here so it wasn’t mixed in with the conversation about the iPads themselves.

  12. I think the key to the problem is that whoever built this ad didn’t make a differentiation between the iPad replacing these items and destroying them. All these items are functionally incorporated into the iPad Pro, but they still exist on their own and are neither obsolete nor irrelevant. The “crushing” imagery implies that they are no longer useful now that we have the iPad, and that’s simply not true.

  13. I totally agree with the backlash to this myopic marketing attempt. It totally demonstrates how it has transformed from its early days being a customer centric company to a profit centric company under the reign of Tim Cook. However, it is somewhat understandable, considering he is being paid more money by Apple in one day than the average California worker makes in an entire year.

  14. I think they were so enamored (drunk) on the ability to create and render the ad that they overlooked the predictable emotional reaction.

  15. The inspiration for the ad (Hit tip to John Gruber of Daring Fireball):

  16. When I saw the segment in the event video I thought it was pretty trite “we squashed all this into an iPad” but I read it that the core buyer for this probably overpowered device was creative professionals. I never considered it as an ad, it’s not smart or cool enough to be an Apple ad being just a feat of sorts. Showing off is a kind of default choice used by a lot of tech companies. The worst example being that orbiting Tesla. Ultimately they’re just kinda dumb.

    I wouldn’t be angry but I supposed folks are hardwired that way these days.

  17. I’ve deleted all the off-topic posts. PLEASE don’t hijack threads like this.

  18. The ad was an obvious metaphor for how the iPad can replace all those dinosaurs. I found it mildly amusing, and the negative reaction to it psychologically suspect.

  19. “That would have been better received…but snowflakes…ya know. … the outrage is way off the reservation.”

    “The outrage” consists of people peacefully tweeting and blogging. If that offends anyone as “off the reservation”… well, snowflakes, ya know. : )

  20. Nobody’s threatening a boycott or anything non peaceful…but it’s pretty apparent that a lot of creatives and media types are unhappy enough that their tweets and blogs forced the ever image conscious Apple to apologize and withdraw the ad.

    I think the crushing thing was a bit over the top…but the idea was that all of those things could be done with an iPad…and I think a tornado or blender or whirlwind something or other that pulled them all in and spit out an iPad would have been better.

    YMMV of course…but clearly Apple responded to what they perceived as outrage in the press and from creatives. To me…all of the hoopla is much ado about nothing.

  21. Apple had the sense to not double-down on something that had clearly not created the reaction they wanted. Defending it was not going to shift things – I think the general sense is that if you have to defend an advertisement, you’ve already lost the argument.

  22. Most musicians will tell you that they have a psychological “bond” with their instruments, or at least their favorite ones. As an amateur musician, I have similar feelings towards mine.

    Seeing instruments getting crushed - even knowing that they are CGI renderings and not real instruments - definitely stirred negative feelings. Similar to the feelings I’ve had when watching (for instance) the Mythbusters exploding piano myth, even knowing that they used a broken piano that was damaged beyond repair for the test.

    So I completely understand how other creative professionals might feel hurt seeing their preferred media crushed, and how some would loudly complain about it.

  23. A local TV show down here - which does clever analyses of advertising - just nailed the Apple ad. Interestingly, they pointed out quite the similiarity with an LG ad from 15 years ago - almost a straight rip-off.

    They also made the point it’s the first Apple ad they can recall not featuring a person. In a somewhat negative appraisal, one panelist said it could easily be construed as (I’m paraphrasing) Apple showing themselves as the overtly powerful, domineering, threatening, all-crushing company it has become. Ouch!

  24. M C

    If we do a little thought experiment and consider the impact or potential impact of AI on jobs, especially accounting and day to day business management and finance jobs, then the poorly thought out Apple ad does a good job of showing how, the one thing remaining, that brings joy and pleasure to so many humans — the humanities, art, and design — is also very much in danger. Albeit, the ad did this unintentionally.
    When all the boring jobs can be done by AI, all we will have left is creative pleasures. If AI takes that away, the craft, the skill, the creativity that is humanity, we should all be worried. This ad shows the blind idiocy of jumping on tech band wagons with out using critical thinking. Tech is overlapping so much into so much of human activity, in good and very bad ways (social media) it is time it also did some work to protect humanity.
    But what the hell do I know. I just have a BFA in fine art, an MFA in design, worked as a designer and art director, and taught design for 18 years.

  25. I agree with Jose Hill that “1984” was a very, very, very, extremely much more effective new product introduction that really changed the technology and advertising worlds:

    What especially made this ad very different and unusual is that TBWA/Chiat brought in film director Ridley Scott to direct the production. It’s still considered by many to be the best and most effective ad of all time, and it was only broadcasted once. There were a wealth of more product focused print and outdoor ads that followed immediately.

  26. Others may have already pointed this out, but that front shot is from the 25th anniversary version (iPod added). The rest of the ad is the original, though. Still gives me chills every time I see it.

  27. I thought it looked different! I should have looked closer.

  28. I’m surprised Samsung didn’t crush a Vision Pro among their mess.

  29. Personally, I vote for “ill-considered effort”. The song “All I Ever Need Is You” is playing as cultural icons of the world we once knew are being mercilessly destroyed. “Give me a reason to build my world around you,” the lyric intones. To me, the shameless message of this ad is that you don’t need all that other stuff—all you need is the new iPad. I call it crass commercialism at its finest! This ad might have been created as a metaphor for the destructive influence of the tech revolution, but not with those lyrics! :rofl:

  30. Just like the very extremely super and very successful Mac “1984” advertising. And also the ads for iPod and their very unique headphones, etc., etc., etc.

  31. I don’t believe that AI can take away creative pleasures. Individuals would have to willingly surrender those pleasures. I sometimes choose to use Adobe’s generative fill to correct problems with my photographs, especially unavoidable, undesirable background elements. And I use Topaz AI apps to increase the quality of my finished product when I deem it necessary. But the photos are still my original art and no one else’s. I conceived them and I made them.

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