Creatives defend Apple ad amid backlash

Apple was the subject of rare ire this week over an ad it released on Wednesday promoting the new iPad Pro.

Called Crush! and created by Apple’s in-house team, the 60-second spot shows myriad creative tools — paint brushes, books, musical instruments and more — being crushed by an industrial press and flattened into the new, thinner iPad pro.  

The ad immediately received backlash from the creative community, with CEO Tim Cook’s post on X sharing the work flooded with hundreds of negative comments. The disdain came from every day creatives to celebrities including actor Hugh Grant and filmmaker Justine Bateman. 

While many advertising creatives are also upset about what they view as a dystopian spin on the future of human creativity, others disagree with the pushback, suggesting that the reaction highlights a lack of understanding of how technology tools in fact power creativity. 

We asked the question: Why did the ad receive such a negative reaction from the creative community, and what does that say about creatives’ readiness to embrace AI tools? What did Apple miss about creatives’ AI fears in the strategy behind this campaign?

Read their responses below.  

Cooper Evoy, associate creative director, SS+K

This feels like people taking out their (in my opinion, extremely justified!) frustration, fears and uncertainty about generative AI on an undeserving ad.

Because a svelter iPad isn’t some Sora-esque harbinger of creative doom. It doesn’t do anything Apple hasn’t already been doing for decades (my god-awful Garage Band creations from 2005 are proof). Only now it’s all, you know, slimmer. This is the message I took from what I think is a fantastically simple spot: all these awesome features crammed into one slim device.

And yes, I understand how the literal crushing of tangible tools humans use to create art in the real world has tapped into this growing (and warranted!) anxiety over what AI means for the future of creativity. But again, this isn’t an ad for Sora — because if it was, there would’ve been humans in there.

Apple’s ‘Crush’ ad receives backlash from PR and marketing pros

Dan Gardner, co-founder, Code and Theory

Love this commercial. Genius. It says everything about what technology has enabled and where the future is going. 

How is this different than when the printing press was disrupted? How is this different from when dark rooms were displaced? When acrylic paint was invented, did the oil painters say, “No! You are ruining creativity?” 

If this has truly struck a nerve with creatives, they need to rethink what creativity really means. Apple has a long history of being an accelerant for creativity. The new iPad and the proliferation of other new tools should get them excited. Ultimately, AI won’t replace jobs. People who use AI will replace those who don’t.

Brian Yamada , chief innovation officer, VML

The backlash is against the positioning of tech replacing — or in this case, literally destroying — physical objects used to create. So I think it taps into more than just AI —  although that’s certainly the tech of the moment. 

The reaction echoes the larger loss of humanity, back to social media scrolling replacing in-person time with friends. Like any tool, we can choose to use tech in positive or negative ways, and this spot unfortunately (and hopefully unintentionally) taps into the negative.


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