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Apple says, ‘We’re sorry’ for ‘Crush’ iPad Pro ad that seems to demolish creativity

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Apple has a history of iconic commercials, but its most recent video ad, posted on YouTube and X to promote the new iPad Pro went too far for some, as it dealt a crushing blow to many art forms.

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Apple‘s latest advertisement crushed it – and not in a good way.

The 1-minute ad meant to highlight the thinness of the new iPad Pro touched a nerve among some in the creative community – maybe because the analogy hit too close to home at a time when artificial intelligence threatens creators.

In the ad, an imaginary trash compactor-like contraption crushes musical instruments, a record player, a TV, a video game arcade machine, a sculpture and a painting, a chess board, computers, books, sketches and cans of paint – with a rainbow of colors spilling over the side like blood – to produce an iPad.

Entitled “Crush!,” the ad landed Tuesday on YouTube and CEO Tim Cook’s account on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. It was meant to promote the tech giant’s event Wednesday about all the new iPad developments.

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But reaction was so negative that on Thursday, the company issued a mea culpa.

“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 marketing vice president Tor Myhren said in a statement to 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.”

Apple did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.

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Some took how Apple destroyed tools of creativity and art forms literally – a notion many thought Apple should have been sensitive to.

“The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley,” actor Hugh Grant posted on X.

The ad “turned my stomach. Then, it made me incredibly angry. Then, I was just sad,” Shelly Palmer, a tech/media/marketing consultant and professor of advanced media in residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, wrote in his newsletter and on his blog Friday.

Despite the ad’s supposed intention “to demonstrate how all of the tools we use to create and consume art and music are combined to create an iPad,” Palmer said. “To me, it is a horrifying declaration of how Apple thinks about the creative community.”

To Cook, he said, “I’m asking you directly: Is this what you think of the creative community? Is it your goal to crush us? To crush the life out of our instruments? To literally crush our souls?”

Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Nick Anderson posted on X a drawing of an emoji representing creatives getting squished.

In a column, Julian Sancton, the senior features editor at The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “You can imagine the pitch: ‘All of human creation compressed into one impossibly sleek tablet.’ But the end result feels more like: ‘All of human creation sacrificed for a lifeless gadget’.”

Sancton, who is the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit alleging copyright infringement by OpenAI and Microsoft, added: “Indeed, at a time of bipartisan skepticism about tech and its destructive effects on society – and, in the case of generative AI, its callous disregard for human creators – it seems designed to offend as many people as possible.”

Garr Reynolds, a professor of management and communication design at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan, and author of Presentation Zen, made this comparison on X: “This new iPad ad is to Apple commercials what the 1978 ‘Star Wars Holiday Special’ was to Star Wars. Toss this iPad commercial in the trash and let us never speak of it again. Alternatively, rerelease it with the first 57 seconds removed: the last 3-seconds were great.”

Not everyone was verklempt over the ad. “I can both think the new iPad Pro ad was a big miss AND think the twitter reactions to it are downright stupid,” Jack Appleby, author of the Future Social newsletter on social media strategy, posted on X.

“Yeah, it’s a bad ad,” he continued. “But you all understand the point of the ad. And worse? None of you could do your jobs without these Apple products.”

Contributing: Reuters.

Follow Mike Snider on X and Threads: @mikesnider & mikegsnider.

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