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Apple crashes with 'Crush' ad for iPad Pro. Creatives explain why

Apple crashes with 'Crush' ad for iPad Pro. Creatives explain why

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Apple has released a short film titled "Crush" in tandem with its launch for its new 13-inch iPad Pro. Unfortunately, Apple did not seem to crush it with its direction. 

Set to the tune of Sonny and Cher’s All I Ever Need is You, the film features a tower of everyday and analogue items such as paint, a metronome and an arcade machine being crushed by a hydraulic press with slow motion and close-up shots for dramatic effect.

The press then opens to reveal the thinnest iPad it has made and highlight the vast features and capabilities of its new M4 chip. However, sentiments against Apple’s iPad line dropped after the release of its iPad Pro commercial.

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According to media intelligence firm CARMA, words associated with the Apple’s iPad initially were also largely positive with words such as “high”, “valued’ and “features”. In contrast, after the Crush advertisement, sentiments about Apple’s iPad dropped to 50.8% positive and 19.7% negative. Words associated with the brand were a mixed bag with words such as “incredible” and “vibrant” being brought up alongside words such as “worried”, “angry” and “bad”.

According to replies seen on Apple CEO Tim Cook’s post on X about the new commercial, netizens were unhappy with its wasteful disregard for creative equipment and its depiction of a dystopian future. “I can't relate to this video at all. It lacks any respect for creative equipment and mocks the creators. I don’t want to align myself with the values portrayed in this video. I wonder what Steve Job would think if he saw this,” said a user.

Where did it go wrong?

There are countless videos on the internet of people putting random everyday items through a hydraulic press or rolling bottles of glitter down the stairs, which puts the backlash less on the issue of wastage but on the advertisement's message.

“Either create on an iPad or don't create at all. That's what this ad says, completely ignoring the fact that increasing numbers of young people, acutely aware of their own mental wellbeing, are turning back to analogue activities for more fulfilling, less damaging creative experiences,” said Neal Moore, founder of Moore's Lore Media.

To Moore, the advertisement blatantly ignores the current rise of analogue items such as the growing sales of vinyl records with artists releasing multiple variants and positions Apple’s iPad to be the sole way creators can create adding:

Apple used to be the computer for creatives but this ad demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of creative people who are naturally rebellious and not inclined to give themselves over, wholesale, to any corporation.

In following the hydraulic press video trend, Apple had the opportunity to communicate something meaningful to humanity but fell flat, according to Shouvik Prasanna Mukherjee, chief creative officer APAC Golin. “While I believe the intended message was to show all tools of human creativity compressed in a tablet - the dystopian picturisation made it feel like all of human creativity crushed into a gadget,” he said. Adding:

As a fan I was expecting an emancipating twist in the tale, but instead it felt like a disappointing antithesis to their classic 1984 ad!

Despite the accessibility of AI tools from OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Microsoft’s Bard, Anthropic’s Claude and now Meta’s generative AI ads, 40% of workers in Singapore do not trust the data used to train AI systems they see today according to Salesforce’s latest study titled the ‘AI Trust Quotient’. As 58% of workers fear humans will lose control of AI and 94% do not currently trust AI to operate without human oversight, slightly higher than the global average of 90%, Apple’s iPad commercial feeds into the fear of an AI takeover and lack of trust with the new technology.

“People are worried about losing jobs to AI, concerned about creativity unethically being outsourced to algorithms - this ad seemed like another squeeze to crush what is intrinsically human,” further explained Mukherjee.

He also said, “Apple is known for making computing personal and liberating - this looked exactly the opposite and hence such a backlash from fans and beyond.”

Agreeing with Mukherjee is Robert Gaxiola, managing partner PLAYBOOK XP who thought the advertisement was well shot, but failed to read the room amidst fears of human labour becoming obsolete in the digital era.

“I knew this ad would upset some humans in the room as it crushed much of the in real-life human experience people feel is being replaced too quickly by AI, software and technology,” added Gaxiola. “I think it might challenge some ideas of what people bestow as sacred or what they considered valuable. The idea is that all these great things are being pushed into the flat ultra-thin product. But people just aren’t loving the brutality of the metaphor,” he also said.

On the other hand, its brutal metaphor also struck a chord with consumers in how it got the point across.

"Might be a tad morbid but it made me think of a murder scene I might see in The Gentleman," explained Fiona Bartholomeusz, managing director, Formul8."Apple always keeps things thought provoking and yet simple in its execution and it does it with this spot. I'm definitely going to get the new iPad now."

The mismatched use of Sonny and Cher's music aside, Bartholomeusz is of the view that people might be reading too much into the ad and that Apple cannot possibly please all its customers with every ad.

"I just think we are in this woke state of life where it's cool to take umbrage at everything. It's pretty much a 'damned if you do anything' period we are in," she said, adding:

I think creators, artists, musicians and more need to not read too much into the symbolism of this ad. It has no reflection of the commercial tyranny of big business today.

Apple might also be suffering from its large success that has drawn haters who seek to undermine its innovative efforts, according to Bartholomeusz.

"Honestly, I just think people at large just want to lash out at Apple for the sake of it. When Apple does something good, it's mocked for its lack of sincerity or creativity. In this case, it's apparently a metaphor for the tech industry squeezing the life out of culture, humanity and the arts," she said.

Join us on 12 June 2024 for an exciting experience as Content360 makes its debut in Malaysia! Brace yourself to join the crème de la crème of the content marketing industry hailing from across the region. Immerse yourself in a dynamic atmosphere, and uncover the latest trends with thought leaders and solution providers from the realm of content.

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