May 8, 2024 - Technology

Apple's hydraulic-press iPad ad ticks off creators

Screenshot from Apple ad showing paint cans being crushed spilling out onto a piano

Still from Apple's "Crush" ad for the new iPads. Screenshot: Apple

An ad for Apple's new iPad lineup that shows a massive hydraulic press crushing the artifacts of human and digital culture — from beautiful musical instruments to arcade video games — has triggered an online outcry in the 24 hours since its release.

The big picture: Creative professionals and artists — one of Apple's key constituencies — already fear AI's impact on their jobs and our culture. The ad, many felt, made the company look both callous and brutal.

Driving the news: The ad, named "Crush!," shows cans of paint, cameras, phonographs, sculptures and many other cultural products and tools getting squashed.

  • When the room-size press lifts at the end, the mess is gone — and in its place sits a gleaming iPad.
  • "The most powerful iPad ever is also the thinnest," the voiceover announces.

Reality check: The ad is a riff on a long-popular genre of "oddly satisfying" memes and TikTok videos showing things getting pulverized.

  • Apple's message was that one little device could take the place of a mountain of presumably outdated stuff.

Yes, but: People saw beloved objects being flattened by a faceless, unstoppable machine. When Tim Cook posted the ad to X, he received thousands of outraged complaints.

  • "I'm definitely the target audience for the new iPad Pro but this ad is tone-deaf and insulting to artists of every kind," wrote cartoonist James Kochalka. "We think of our tools with reverence and respect, and enjoy a healthy dialogue with them. Our tools are like trusted companions on the journey of art."
  • "I don't think I've ever seen a single commercial offend and turn off a core customer base as much as this iPad spot," Michael Miraflor wrote on X. "Achieves the opposite of their legendary 1984 spot. It's not even that it's boring or banal. It makes me feel… bad? Bummed out?"

Between the lines: The company has not addressed the criticism and did not respond to a request for comment.

The bottom line: Apple hasn't been a feisty upstart for decades — it's now among the wealthiest and most powerful entities on the planet.

  • Missteps like this further drain the reservoir of goodwill the company once filled with its product innovations and usability.
Go deeper