‘We missed the mark’: Apple apologises for tone-deaf iPad ad from Mashable

Apple has apologised for the extremely tone-deaf iPad Pro ad it released during its Let Loose event on Tuesday. It turns out that tech giants destroying implements of creative human expression doesn’t play so well to a crowd — especially when creatives’ jobs are being threatened by generative AI.

AdAge reports that Apple has abandoned plans to run its “Crush!” ad on television, admitting that it didn’t quite send the message the company had been aiming for.

“Creativity is in our DNA at Apple, and it’s incredibly important to us to design products that empower creatives all over the world,” Apple’s VP of marketing communications Tor Myhren told AdAge. “Our goal is to always celebrate the myriad of ways users express themselves and bring their ideas to life through iPad. We missed the mark with this video, and we’re sorry.”

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Set to “All I Ever Need Is You” by Sonny & Cher, Apple’s minute-long iPad Pro ad shows a giant hydraulic press slowly crushing a collection of equipment for various hobbies and creative pursuits. These include an upright piano, paints, a trombone, an arcade machine, cameras, and a dressmaker’s mannequin.

The press then lifts to reveal Apple’s new iPad Pro, while a voiceover declares that “the most powerful iPad ever is also the thinnest.”

Apple’s commercial was no doubt intended to convey the idea that the iPad Pro can also do many of the tasks that the various obliterated tools could. Unfortunately, the result looked more grimly dystopian than the tech giant intended.

The widely derided ad was ridiculed as “destructive,” “heartless,” “cruel,” and “soul-crushing,” with viewers appalled to see Apple literally crush so many symbols of human creativity only to replace them with a single cold gadget. Some even stated that it would have been a much better commercial if it were played in reverse.

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Apple’s ad felt particularly callous considering the threat that generative AI is currently posing to creatives. Numerous reports of companies replacing artists with AI have emerged since the technology gained widespread prominence, from viral fashion brand Selkie to streaming giant Netflix

As such, seeing a trillion-dollar tech company symbolically obliterate human creativity and expression rubbed many people the wrong way. 

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Several viewers further unfavourably compared “Crush!” to Apple’s famous “1984” ad directed by Ridley Scott. The commercial featured a woman in bright athletic gear running through a monotonous grey dystopia, before smashing a screen displaying a Big Brother-like dictator. In it, Apple portrayed itself as a beacon of hope and originality in a world of dull conformity. 

“Crush!” offered a stark contrast, inadvertently placing Apple in the position of an oppressor destroying the creativity and colour it used to align itself with.

This isn’t the first time a tech company has tried to sell a product by destroying objects people love. Apple’s ad prompted some social media commenters to resurface a startlingly similar ad LG ran in 2008 for the KC910 Renoir smartphone, crushing cameras, musical instruments, and speakers.