Apple ‘Crush’ ad gets crushed by critics for destroying creativity

Creators and consumers were aghast this week after watching the tech giant’s new iPad spot

Published On
May 09, 2024

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It’s a rare miss for Apple, an Icarus moment for a brand known for its soaring advertising, from iconic ads like the “1984” Macintosh commercial to “Fuzzy Feelings” and “Huracán Ramírez vs. La Piñata Enchilada”—two of the most celebrated ads of 2023.

Crush,” the new iPad Pro spot, has drawn vocal backlash since its Tuesday release, with critics saying the metaphor of the ad is at odds with Apple’s message of creativity. Created in-house and directed by Iconoclast’s Vania & Muggia, the spot introduces Apple’s thinnest product ever by placing a room full of analog creative objects in an industrial crusher.

A metronome, guitar, piano, sculpture bust, paint cans and more get slowly flattened as a metaphor for all the tools and capabilities inside Apple’s newest product. But in an age of AI, where machines threaten to flatten human creativity, the spot has drawn not just disdain but disgust—with many calling it exactly the wrong message at exactly the wrong time. (Others, including agency Lafayette American, pointed out that the ad works better in reverse.)

Apple did not respond to a request for comment. 

Making matters worse, it appears “Crush” isn't just a poorly considered metaphor, it’s also not a new one. The spot is very similar to a 2008 U.K. ad (below) for an LG phone, which is still on YouTube 16 years later.

 

“Crush,” which is airing on TV, social media, digital and YouTube, was quickly interpreted as having a sinister meaning by viewers, who responded under Tim Cook’s X post with criticisms that it represented a desire to replace analog art and human connection with screens. 

People are also pointing out the 2008 LG spot, created by BBH London. 

Celebrities including Hugh Grant, Justine Bateman and “Handmaid’s Tale” director Reed Morano, among others, have also chimed in (below).

There have been calls to pull the spot. But Apple does not typically bow to external pressure, and as of this writing, Cook’s X post and the YouTube video are still live. The company has also not issued any statement on the controversy.

@adage The ad for the new Apple iPad has all of us in a bit of a tizzy 😵‍💫 What do y'all think? 📲 For more industry reactions, check out the link in our bio! #fyp #advertising #apple #marketing ♬ original sound - Ad Age

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