Apple apologises for 'tone-deaf' iPad Pro ad featuring destruction of cultural artefacts

 A hydraulic press crushes an array of creative instruments in a still from Apple's new ad
A hydraulic press crushes an array of creative instruments in a still from Apple's new ad Copyright Apple via AP
Copyright Apple via AP
By Christian Moore with AP
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Apple has been dealt a crushing blow after being forced to apologise for its new iPad Pro advert, which features an array of cultural objects including instruments, books and cameras being destroyed, with the tablet computer held up in their place.


Apple CEO Tim Cook seemed pleased when he tweeted the company’s latest iPad Pro ad, “Crush!”, on Tuesday (7 May). "Meet the new iPad Pro," he wrote. "Just imagine all the things it’ll be used to create."

But in order to illustrate the new tablet’s many creative possibilities, Apple decided that their iPad Pro should feature at the exclusion – or more specifically, annihilation – of all other creative objects. 

The ad features a great slab of metal crushing down on all the things you might use, the company seems to be saying, for something that an iPad Pro can now do for you.

Pianos, trumpets, books, retro gaming tech, vinyl records, cameras – all are sacrificed at the altar of Apple’s ‘thinnest ever’ iPad.

Apple CEO Tim Cook launches the company's new iPad ad

Replies under Cook’s tweet subsequently lit up with criticism, leading to the tech company issuing an apology on Thursday (9 May), via a statement shared with publication Ad Age. The outlet also reported that the company no longer plans to run the commercial on TV.

Perhaps predictably, the now-pulled ad didn’t go down too well with the arts community, especially at a time when rapid advances in generative artificial intelligence are threatening artists and workers with a fresh period of precarity and joblessness.

Apple were repeatedly called "tone deaf" amid big tech's ongoing role in this demise of stable working conditions for creatives.

Some X users also pointed out that the ad bears an uncanny resemblance to an LG ad from 2009, so can’t even speak to the creative originality it putatively celebrates.

Several celebrities also entered the online fray. Actor Hugh Grant wrote “The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley,” in a repost of Cook’s tweet.

Hugh Grant reposted Tim Cook's tweet with some choice words

Filmmaker Justine Bateman wrote: “Why did Apple do an ad that crushes the arts? Tech and AI means to destroy the arts and society in general.” She then linked to a New York Times article drawing the link between authoritarianism and the diminution of the arts.

“Creativity is in our DNA at Apple, and it’s incredibly important to us to design products that empower creatives all over the world,” Tor Myhren, the company's vice president of marketing communications, told 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.”

The ad's failure is a significant blow at a time when Apple is trying to revivify its iPad sales, after appetite for the tablets plunged 17% from last year during the January-March period.

After its 2010 debut helped redefine the tablet market, the iPad has become only a minor contributor to Apple’s success. It currently accounts for just 6% of the tech giant’s sales.

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