1. Home
  2. tech
  3. news
  4. The Apple 'crush' ad for the new iPad wasn't bad, actually

The Apple 'crush' ad for the new iPad wasn't bad, actually

Katie Notopoulos   

The Apple 'crush' ad for the new iPad wasn't bad, actually
  • Apple's "crush" ad for the new iPad Pro drew a massive backlash.
  • The company apologized, saying it "missed the mark," and pulled the ad from TV.

There's been a huge backlash to the ad Apple put out this week to promote its updated iPads. In the ad, a hydraulic press squishes a piano, a trumpet, books, paint cans — and then reveals the new iPad Pro.

The sentiment that this was "off" was immediate — to many, it was a dystopian scenario where tools of human art and creativity are destroyed and replaced with a machine. It hit a nerve in this moment of anxiety about AI having the potential to replace humans, especially in the arts.

The blowback to the iPad ad went far beyond just a handful of disgruntled tweets from the anti-tech peanut gallery — it became its own minicrisis news cycle, and even people in tech piled on. ("Steve wouldn't have ever shipped that ad," the Y Combinator founder Paul Graham tweeted about Steve Jobs.)

Eventually, Apple told Ad Age that it was canceling the TV run of the ad and admitted that it "missed the mark."

But please. Let's be serious here. I'm all for analyzing advertisements and thinking critically about how large companies market themselves. Noting that this ad had a darker allegorical meaning —the CRUSHING of humanity's soul and replacing it with a machine — is fine. Well done.

But come on. It's also very clear that the point of the ad is to show off that the new iPad is very thin. It can pack a lot of apps into a small package.

It's just not that deep.

The iPad ad concept is simply pretty dull

The concept of the ad is so basic that people have noticed it's not even new — a 2008 ad for a camera is nearly identical: A hydraulic press crushes a bunch of bulky physical camera parts to reveal the new, slim digital camera.

I'd wager that Apple wasn't intentionally copying the 2008 ad; rather, the idea is so obvious and dull that more than one company thought it up. Plus, crushing things in hydraulic presses to watch them go sploosh is a whole meme on TikTok and YouTube. A YouTube channel dedicated to hydraulic-press crush videos has more than 9 million followers.

I might be a little more nervous if this ad weren't for an iPad. Let's say OpenAI made an ad crushing up books, newspapers, and magazines and then revealed the ChatGPT logo. Because my job is "generating short articles of text," well, that might make me a little sweaty.

But this is an ad for a freaking iPad. It's not trying to replace pianos; it's a tablet with GarageBand software installed. It's not replacing painting; it's a tool with graphic-design apps. If the iPad aspires to actually replace anything, it would be a laptop — Apple's own product. iPads have been around for over a decade, and the only thing they've successfully replaced is the in-flight entertainment system on a plane for a preschooler.

We may have techlashed too close to the sun

The fact that the outrage was so strong about this ad is baffling to me. I spend a lot of my time thinking about the sinister ways that tech companies are causing real harm, or are developing products without thinking through the risks. There are plenty of examples of this. Does Apple as a company do bad things? I'm sure!

But debuting a thinner iPad Pro … that's … not it. In fact, a thin iPad sounds very nice! A good thing! I think it's cool that an iPad can do all those things and be thinner than a phone. Neat!

Apple is masterful at carefully crafting its image through its marketing, so it's not unreasonable to overanalyze its advertisements. But the reaction to this ad feels like a knee-jerk sentiment that anything tech is bad and antihuman. Sometimes that's true! But sometimes … an iPad is just an iPad.

Popular Right Now