Friday, May 10, 2024

Apple Apologizes for iPad “Crush” Ad

Emma Roth (Hacker News):

Apple has apologized after a commercial meant to showcase its brand-new iPad Pro drew widespread criticism among the creative community. In a statement provided to Ad Age, Tor Myhren, Apple’s vice president of marketing, said the company “missed the mark.”

“Creativity is in our DNA at Apple, and it’s incredibly important to us to design products that empower creatives all over the world,” Myhren told Ad Age. “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.”


The ad rubbed some creatives the wrong way. Hugh Grant called it a “destruction of human experience,” while Handmaid’s Tale director Reed Morano told Apple CEO Tim Cook to “read the room” in a post on X.

As I said, I didn’t care for the ad, and the replies to Tim Cook on Twitter were almost entirely negative, but I’m still surprised that Apple thought it necessary to apologize. I would have preferred an acknowledgment of the widespread Apple ID issue.

John Gruber (Mastodon):

Would this exact same commercial have evoked the same collective response in 2010? I’m going to say no, it would not have. What about in 2018? I’m going to say ... probably not? Something has changed. Part of it is that our culture has changed. I don’t think many people 10 or 15 years ago would have seen dissonance between Apple’s oft-professed sustainability ideals and a commercial celebrating the destruction of artistic tools and objects. And the bigger change is the recognition that computers are eating the world. In 2010 it was seen only as cool that computers were doing more and more stuff. Today there’s widespread uncomfortableness, perhaps outright concern, that the digital world is consuming the analog one. It plays differently today than a decade ago to emphasize that an iPad can replace a veritable truck-full of artistic tools and toys.

But part too is that Apple’s position in our culture has changed. They’re no longer, and never again will be, the upstart. They’re The Man now. They’re part of the firmament of our entire society, not just the tech world.

Andy Allen:

LG phone ad from 2008 (BBH London)

Uli Kusterer:

You’re telling me that not only did Apple decided to run this stupid “crushing it” commercial, they ripped off an old LG ad ???

See also:


Update (2024-05-16): Ken Segall:

Apple has a long and illustrious history of great advertising. Only twice in the past forty years has it received a public shaming for an ad or campaign.

In the 1985 Super Bowl, the Lemmings ad insulted the very audience it was trying to win. During the 2012 Summer Olympics, the Genius campaign was savaged for being embarrassingly unfunny. (Even I couldn’t resist joining the attack on that one.)


When the 2012 Genius campaign was maligned far and wide, it was yanked off the air in a matter of days and simultaneously deleted from Apple’s website and YouTube Channel. Instead of an apology, there was a whitewash. Apple PR said that the campaign was scheduled to run for only a few days all along. Uh, right.

Crush is getting a different treatment. It was the beneficiary of a quick apology (good) and Apple has removed it from broadcast TV (good). However, the ad remains visible in all other media (not so good).

Elizabeth Lopatto:

The message many of us received was this: Apple, a trillion-dollar behemoth, will crush everything beautiful and human, everything that’s a pleasure to look at and touch, and all that will be left is a skinny glass and metal slab.


Apple has a habit of suggesting its older devices are obsolete by releasing new versions that change their shells and styling without altering what they do in any meaningful way. The point of this ad is not about the iPad’s creative uses — it’s that it’s skinny. That’s the big selling point: the skinniest ever. Apple was so focused on its exciting new marketing feature that it lost sight of what’s really important: the tools that make the things we love. 

Glenn Fleishman:

It just struck me what Apple got wrong with its “crushing ad.”

They thought we would identify with the iPad, not the creative instruments and materials.

Ben Thompson:

This is what I mean when I say that Apple’s iPad ad hit the mark: the reason why I think the ad resonated so deeply is that it captured something deep in the gestalt that actually has very little to do with trumpets or guitars or bottles of paint; rather, thanks to the Internet — particularly the smartphone-denominated Internet — everything is an app.


One thing I do credit Apple for is not trying to erase the ad from the Internet — it’s still posted on CEO Tim Cook’s X account — because I think it’s important not just as a marker of what has happened over the last several years, but also the choices facing us in the years ahead.


What is increasingly clear, though, is that Jobs’ prediction that future changes would be even more profound raise questions about the “bicycle for the mind” analogy itself: specifically, will AI be a bicycle that we control, or an unstoppable train to destinations unknown? To put it in the same terms as the ad, will human will and initiative be flattened, or expanded?

See also:


We would never crush creativity. #UnCrush

19 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

This is one of the dumbest things I've heard. It's a prime example of one of the biggest problems with the Internet, holding a megaphone up to every idiotic thought. The resulting bandwagonism leads companies and individuals to think that they must respond, lest they be 'canceled'. "Oh no! Apple is literally crushing the artistry of Hugh Grant! This will not stand!"

Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor, having fallen over backward after rolling my eyes a little too hard.

Not sure why they feel the need to apologize. Just kill the ad like they killed other bad ads.

But why is it the VP of marketing that is sent to apologize?

Is he the guy that runs Apple and who was leading the Apple Event that introduced this ad?

Old Unix Geek

@Gruber: "The Man".

Yes. But there's also the fear of tech taking people's jobs and replacing them that is growing, thanks to greater surveillance, more censorship and overblown claims about AI.

Also, the 2008 LG advertisement seems a lot less violent to me, and therefore somewhat less repulsive. Let's watch that emoji's eyes be crushed out of its head again! That's the feeling we're aiming for.

Not sure what apologizing about it will change though. Apple's been seen for what they are, and it looks like they're apologizing for the mask slipping.

Old Unix Geek

This captures it.

I guess I'm not cynical enough. I saw the ad as just saying that all of those analog/physical things can be done on this super thin new iPad. And I'm sure that was the intention.

If this ad is what has opened anyone's eyes to the coming wave of digital replacements, then they've been living in a cave somewhere. Progress happens. There are far fewer jobs these days for buggy whip makers and ice block deliverers than there were 100+ years ago, too.

Relax. Apple is not coming for your analog metronome.

At least, the old G3 steamroller ad only crushed computers.

While Apple's intent may have been so how all those things have been squeezed into a small device, there was way too much focus on the destruction side. I wasn't angry at the video, but it did just seem sad and dark more than anything.

Old Unix Geek

@DJ They could have expressed your idea by making the various objects becoming liquid and pouring into a iPad Pro mold. Or the objects could have become ghostlike and gone into the iPad suggesting their souls went into it. Or they could have naturally become flatter and fitted into it. Or we could have seen the inside of the iPad and seen its components were a piano, a trumpet, whatever.

But instead of choosing any one of an infinite number of non-destructive options, Apple chose to use the visualization of two very large anvils of metal to pulverize and destroy heirlooms and things people love, to be replaced by an iPad Pro that will last at most a couple of years before being tossed out because of software incompatibilities or a dead battery.

In one of the Star Wars movies, Luke and Leia were being crushed by the trash compactor, symbolizing the Empire's heavy handed crushing of its citizens: "The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers". Crushing things is rarely associated with positive feelings.

By the way, you're right about buggies, carts and plows. No more jobs for horses. What did it do to them? Oh, the population of horses fell between 80% and 90% in the US. I'm sure tomorrow's "useless eaters", to quote Harari, won't mind dying to make our economy more efficient, having been digitally replaced.

And yet the human population has not suffered for lack of jobs making buggy whips and delivering blocks of ice.

Old Unix Geek

@DJ: Given that productivity has been rising since the 1970s, yet the benefits have been going to fewer and fewer people, many would quibble with your point. This was not unexpected. Indeed it was already expected in the 1800s. I hear plenty of gripes from Zoomers about this these days.

It boggles my mind how many people consider it no big deal. The ad is a bad taste, period. Regardless of where it comes from. But the fact that it comes from Apple tells how rotten things really are.

The irony of DJ’s megaphone thought is that it’s exactly what I see when I see people whining about the measured response to this total misfire of an ad.

People have stated in very specific terms why the ad is a misfire. Meanwhile, the response from the noisy internet — that everyone speaking out is whining just to whine — may as well be shouted at a mirror. One side is making a point; the other side is just complaining, and it’s the side that’s complaining that is fed up with complaining.

Apple’s response to the response — opening its eyes, acting appropriately, signing its response with a name — is smart in every way. I guess the megaphone made its point better than the whining contrarians did.

It is a very bad ad.

I get what they were trying to say, but the semiotics are all wrong. It's destruction instead of creation. It's lol at us instead of look at you.

In classic Apple fashion they let spectacle trump function.

And then it turned out to be a rip off... a bigger budget version of what others have already done. Heh...

Anyhow, I think that thing where they gave stuff to a bunch of rich baseball players was even more on the nose/tone deaf.

*look at us, instead of

Daniël de Kok

@Old Unix Geek or as someone else said, simply playing the video in reverse would have been a much nicer message - creation that comes from the iPad rather than destruction.

It should have been a magician pulling things out of the iPad and putting them into peoples hands. It should be about users and what they can achieve and not Apple and what they can achieve.

It's marketing 101 ffs.

I would guess that you could show the ad to a room of 100 people, and only 1 would truly be offended by it. A few would empathize with that person because "I had a metronome, too! *sniff*", and a few more would sympathize with that group. At the other end of the spectrum, a few people would really like it. Most people wouldn't have strong feelings about it one way or the other. Apple should *maybe* feel strongly about that aspect, since the purpose of any ad is to move as many people as possible in your direction.

And those things with the squished-out eyes? They're designed to do exactly that.

If mechanical metronomes weren't so expensive and unreliable and didn't remind me of the least enjoyable aspects of practicing the piano, I might have fonder memories of them. They can be fun to play with and make nice decorative objects.

There's a pang in my chest upon the destruction of actual pianos. Depictions in commercials do not elicit the same response.


Leave a Comment