Apple apologizes over reviled ‘Crush!’ iPad Pro ad [Updated again]


Apple video for iPad Pro - Crush
The lingering shot of this little guy giving up the ghost didn't help.
Photo: Apple

Apple Let Loose Event: Apple’s “Crush!” video advertising the new iPad Pro is rubbing a lot of people the wrong way with its graphic destruction of creative tools.

The video first aired during Apple’s “Let Loose” event Tuesday. And when CEO Tim Cook included the video in a post about iPad Pro on X, hundreds of people replied with irritation. You can see some of the strongest reactions, and the video itself, below.

Updates on Thursday: Later on Wednesday Hollywood names piled on with more criticism of the “Crush!” video. Actor Hugh Grant, for example, referred to it as, “the destruction of the human experience, courtesy of Silicon Valley.”

And filmmaker Rizo Sixo Safai made more of a splash when he told Apple he “fixed” the video by running it in reverse with some tweaks, resurrecting the creative tools. See that version below.

It also came to light that Apple’s “Crush!” ad closely resembles an LG Renoir phone ad from 2008, as pointed out in yet another X post (also below) and elsewhere. Some call Apple’s ad a rip-off.

And on Thursday, Apple issued an apology for the ad in a statement to Ad Age, saying the ad “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,” Apple marketing VP Tor Myhren said. “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.”

‘Crush!’ Apple video for iPad Pro rubs creatives the wrong way

The point of the ad, which runs a bit more than a minute, seems clear enough. Using the latest iPad Pro and powerful software, you can harness the creative power of many different tools like paints, musical instruments and even games and toys.

But the way the ad depicts a giant crushing device — reminiscent of the trash compactor scene in Star Wars — laying waste to a huge pile of perfectly innocent creative tools rubbed a lot of creatives the wrong way.

When the ad’s detailed and lingering views of pianos, guitars, paint sets, classic arcade games, turntables, sculptures and more being utterly obliterated finally comes to an end, the compactor lifts to show iPad Pro.

Voila! The ultra-thin device is everything, and the only thing, a creative person needs, the ad seems to say.

An ad for a creative tool destroys other creative tools

Apple video for iPad Pro - Crush
The trumpet on top of the pile will be the first to get it in Apple’s “Crush!” ad.
Photo: Apple

“Yes, but at what price, Apple?” many creatives seem to reply. The ad struck many as wasteful, to say the least. I know I was ready to turn off the video by the time the cute little toy ball’s eyes blew out from the brutal compression.

“Everything beautiful, charming and analog will be destroyed by a flat black screen,” one X user noted, sourly.

“iPad crushes the soul of humanity,” summed up another.

Given the large negative response from creatives online after Cook posted the video, the surprisingly graphic ad seems like the wrong way to sell iPad Pro to that audience. His post drew nearly 4,000 replies as of Wednesday morning, quite a few of them expressing criticism of the ad.

Cook’s messaging with video simply introduced the new tablet. He called it “the thinnest product we’ve ever created with the most advanced display we’ve ever produced,” and mentioned the powerful M4 chip. “Just imagine all the things it’ll be used to create,” he added.

Could backlash to ‘Crush!’ video for iPad Pro erode Apple’s brand equity?

Scads of people, including quite a few from Japan, used their computing tools to create outraged replies to the video. One person referred to Apple losing brand equity “instantly” with the video.

“Who approve this creative? Who create this? Everyone in the studio was excited to see everything destroyed?” asked a user. “Definitely this is the good case study the world big tech company lost brand equity instantly. Promise to prevent my kids to watch this video.”

“I felt sad when I saw creative tools such as musical instruments and cameras being destroyed. I don’t think the creators will like this video. Is it my Japanese sensibility that makes me feel this way?” asked another poster.

“Even if you wanted to claim that your products could replace musical instruments and cameras, there was no need for scenes that suggest violence towards humans,” said a third, including images with their post of figures and toys with faces getting crushed.

One factor that could mitigate the video’s impact would be if CGI effects created most of the visuals. That could be the case. In other words, Apple didn’t necessarily smash all those tools and objects in real life. But even so, a lot of people took a message other than the one Apple clearly intended.

Watch Apple’s ‘Crush!’ video:

This post first published Wednesday, May 8, 2024. We updated it with more reaction and the video in reverse plus Apple’s apology on Thursday, May 9, 2024.


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