Apple Apologizes After Tone-Deaf iPad Ad Implies Crushing Creativity

May 14, 2024



Elle Yap

Apple Corporation publicly apologized after their newest commercial for the iPad Pro received massive backlash from the creative community as a “tone-deaf” ad that aimed to replace humanity from the practice. 

Tor Myhren, Apple’s vice president of marketing communications, said that the video “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,” he 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.”

The new ad showed different tools and creative instruments crushed by a giant hydraulic press. Among the equipment crushed included a piano, trumpet, guitar, books, a typewriter, an arcade game cabinet, and paint cans. The hydraulic press lifts to reveal the new iPad Pro.

It was an attempt to spotlight the newest tablet as a multi-purpose creative tool and its thinnest creation yet. In the tweet showing the new ad, Apple CEO Tim Cook called it “the most advanced display we’ve ever produced.”

‘Destruction of Human Experience’

The general response to the ad has been visceral disgust. People online complained about its tone-deaf representation of art during a time when companies push for the replacement of human workers with artificial intelligence (AI). 

Actor Hugh Grant tweeted that it was “[the] destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley.”

Luke Barnett, an actor for shows like For All Mankind and NCIS: Los Angeles, highlighted the visceral effect of the advertisement with a glib comment: “If you thought THIS IPad ad was weird, you should have seen the first cut where they lined up all your favorite characters and shot them.”

The ad comes as AI threatens to displace creative workers from their fields. Such technologies have also been accused of plagiarism due to the way information has been fed into the systems. Multiple lawsuits aimed at companies like OpenAI over their alleged copyright violations.

The 2023 Writers Guild of America Strike. Photo by 	ufcw770. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
The 2023 Writers Guild of America Strike. Photo by ufcw770. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The recent Hollywood writers and actors’ strike in 2023 largely revolved around the use of these technologies in Hollywood. Both strikes incapacitated productions, forcing concessions to major studios regarding their use. 

“It is the most honest metaphor for what tech companies do to the arts, to artists, musicians, creators, writers, filmmakers: squeeze them, use them, not pay well, take everything then say it’s all created by them,” filmmaker Asif Kapadia said.

Upheaval of Human Creativity

Experts in marketing said that the very literal crushing of art products validated the fears of giant tech companies replacing art with technology. UK marketer James Clark compared it to past Apple ads which exemplified the spirit of creativity and innovation like the company’s “1984” Super Bowl ad.

“1984: Monochrome, conformist, industrial world exploded by [colorful], vibrant human. 2024: [Colorful], vibrant humanity is crushed by monochrome, conformist industrial press,” he said.

Steve Jobs presenting the original Apple iPad. Photo by matt buchanan. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Steve Jobs presenting the original Apple iPad. Photo by matt buchanan. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

University of Pennsylvania professor Americus Reed II said that the ad did not come across well. He believes that “the way it came across is, here is technology crushing the life of that nostalgic sort of joy.”

Apple said after their apology that they will not be airing the ad on television due to the backlash. 

Related reading: Apple Store Marina Bay Sands: A stunning addition to Singapore’s Skyline

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