Tim Nudd, reporting for Ad Age:

Apple apologized Thursday for a new iPad Pro commercial that was met with fierce criticism from creatives for depicting an array of creative tools and objects—from a piano, to a camera, to cans of paint—being destroyed by an industrial crusher.

The tech giant no longer plans to run the commercial on TV…

But many viewers had a more chilling interpretation, seeing the spot as a grim representation of technology crushing the history of human creativity—something the creative industry is already existentially worried about with the rise of AI.

In an exclusive statement obtained by Ad Age, Apple apologized for the “Crush” spot and said it didn’t mean to cause offense among its creative audience.

“Creativity is in our DNA at Apple, and it’s incredibly important to us to design products that empower creatives all over the world,” said Tor Myhren, the company’s VP of marketing communications. “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 spot rolled out on Apple’s YouTube and CEO Tim Cook’s X account on Tuesday, but had not received any paid media. Plans for a TV run have now been scrapped.

This is the video in question. Two things:

  1. This is the first time I have seen Apple pull an advertisement from the airwaves in recent memory. The backlash was fierce this time around, with many feeling frustrated and upset at the (terrible) visual of these beautiful pieces of technology and instruments being crushed by what looked like a hydraulic press. I understand what Apple was aiming for here — that the new iPad Pro is powerful enough to replace all of these tools while being remarkably thin — and in a way, the imagery fits the theme. But in practice, looking at the commercial is just sad. I understand why so many professionals — the target market for the advertisement, too — were disturbed by this video, and I think Apple made the right decision here. I appreciate how the company has handled this situation; it takes courage to remove the main commercial for a star product just a day after it was announced.

  2. When I first viewed the advertisement during Apple’s Tuesday event, I wasn’t very perturbed by it, but that was mostly because I wasn’t paying much attention. But after Cook posted the video on the social media website X, I watched it again after reading some posts from filmmakers and other creators about how it made them feel, and I was suddenly uneasy. This commercial comes at a time when much of the creative industry is alarmed by the advent of generative artificial intelligence. For their precious tools, like guitars, pianos, and paints, to be destroyed and replaced by a slender tablet marketed as an “AI-focused” device is cruel. I think Apple could’ve instead offered a brighter picture of how the new iPad Pro could be used, featuring creators in their working spaces using the iPad to enhance their workflows. Nobody is seriously going to throw out their drum kit to replace it with the AI-powered drummer in the new version of Logic Pro announced Tuesday, so why advertise the device like that?

Apple, in the words of Myhren, the company spokesperson, truly did “miss the mark.” It’s unusual coming from Cupertino, which typically makes the very best awe-inspiring advertisements. For example, I thought the digital campaign that followed the event comparing the new iPad Pro to a teal iPod nano was great — it is peak Apple; just as Steve Jobs would’ve intended. I know Apple values and loves physical, antique objects, even if they’re from another era — just look at how much the company celebrates its history in so many of its advertisements. I don’t know why the team tasked with producing this commercial chose to portray the new iPad Pro this way in a stunning deviation of decorum.