Pressing Matters – Apple’s Ad Leaves Creatives Crushed

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Apple – the darling of Silicon Valley and the creative’s go-to brand – stepped into a PR minefield this past week.

During their Let Loose event, Apple rolled out a new iPad Pro ad that landed like a lead balloon.
Picture this: Iconic symbols of human creativity – musical instruments, art, video games – all crushed by a hydraulic industrial press to make way for a shiny new iPad.
This didn’t sit well with the creative community, especially those feeling the heat from Generative AI.

I actually quite liked the ad.

“What what what?!?!?!”
I did.
I liked it.
I spend too much time on TikTok and watching short videos on other platforms not to be mesmerized by the countless videos of hydraulic presses squishing everything from candies and toys to electronics and used sofas.
It’s quite relaxing, interesting and very ASMR.
My initial thought was: Good on you Apple for tapping into a trendy meme and taking it to an entirely other level, with the final message being that all of this art, creativity and more can fit it into this new and lighter iPad (that no hydraulic press can ever destroy).
Let’s face it, these types of videos are the kind of mindless content that sucks you in on TikTok or YouTube Shorts.
Actor Hugh Grant called it, “the destruction of the human experience,” and the internet exploded with outrage.

I guess they missed the memes?

Like, if you don’t get the meme, the ad feels like a slap in the face to creativity?
Apple’s internal marketing team aimed to show that an iPad could encapsulate the world’s wonders.
Instead, the audience took it to mean that all these wonders are disposable, replaceable by their sleek device.
Still, if you play the ad backwards… it works
Meme success?

The backlash was swift and brutal… and it lingers.

Was the timing off?
As AI starts to encroach on creative professions, seeing artistic tools crushed into oblivion felt like a grim commentary on the future to many.
Remember Apple’s 1984 ad?
It painted a picture of liberation from a dystopian, colorless world.
Fast forward 40 years, and now Apple’s ad shows vibrant symbols of creativity being annihilated in a gray, industrial void.

How did this get so twisted… with so many differing perspectives?

Apple’s apology highlights the importance of understanding cultural context.
Brands need to know their audience (and their sub-audiences) inside and out.
What’s a hit with TikTok meme enthusiasts (raising my hand here) might be a miss with seasoned creatives.
The bigger idea is that Apple is usually a master of marketing, so watching them miss the mark may be the most surprising aspect of this discourse.

Even the titans of tech can falter.

For Apple, a company that has always positioned itself as a champion of creativity, created something that felt like a betrayal to enough people that it had to apologize.
The creative community’s reaction underscores the delicate balance brands must maintain when promoting innovation without appearing to undermine the very creativity they seek to empower.
This marketing misstep serves as a reminder: In the race to innovate, never forget the value of human creativity.
Because if you crush the instruments of creativity, you just might end up silencing the very voices you aim to amplify.

I know this was not the brand’s intention.

This is what Elias Makos and I discussed on CJAD 800 AM. Listen in right here.

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