Apple’s New iPad Pro Ad Sparks Outrage as Hugh Grant and More Slam Tech Giant: ‘The Destruction of the Human Experience’

Apple iPad advert

An Apple commercial for the new iPad Pro tablet showing an industrial press literally crushing a TV, musical instruments, books and more ignited an angry backlash among many in Hollywood and other creative industries.

The ad, titled “Crush!”, shows an array of various objects — including a record player, a piano, a guitar, an old TV set, cameras, a typewriter, books, paint cans and tubes, and a classic arcade game machine — getting compressed into (voila!) the new iPad Pro. The spot is soundtracked to Sonny and Cher’s “All I Ever Need Is You.” (Watch the ad below.)

“Just imagine all the things it’ll be used to create,” Apple CEO Tim Cook posted on X about the new iPad Pro along with the ad.

The idea, of course, is that the iPad Pro tablet lets you watch TV shows and movies, listen to and create music, play games, read books, take photos, shoot video and more — in a sleek form factor that is thinner than ever.

But the ad has been interpreted more as a visual depiction of the tech industry’s devastation of cultural industries. “The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley,” actor Hugh Grant commented on X.

Filmmaker and actor Justine Bateman, who has served as an adviser to SAG-AFTRA on AI issues, had a similar incredulous reaction: “Truly, what is wrong with you?” she said in quoting Cook’s post.

Producer, director and writer Asif Kapadia wrote, “Like iPads but don’t know why anyone thought this ad was a good idea. It is the most honest metaphor for what tech companies do to the arts, to artists musicians, creators, writers, filmmakers: squeeze them, use them, not pay well, take everything then say it’s all created by them.”

“If you thought THIS IPad ad was weird, you should have seen the first cut where they lined up all your favorite characters and shot them,” actor, writer and producer Luke Barnett commented on X.

Filmmaker Reza Sixo Safai shared a version of the iPad Pro ad running in reverse, commenting, “Hey @Apple, I fixed it for you.”

Apple did not respond to a request for comment. [UPDATE, May 9: The company issued an apology for the ad, saying, “We missed the mark with this video, and we’re sorry.”]

To be sure, Apple has long been known to craft commercials that raise eyebrows and defy conventional wisdom. The company, after all, once used the slogan “Think Different.”

One of the most famous Super Bowl ads in history is Apple’s “1984” commercial, directed by Ridley Scott, that urged consumers to rebel against IBM’s PC hegemony to try new home-computer technology in the form of the Macintosh. In 2002, an Apple ad campaign pushed consumers to use the iPod to “Rip. Mix. Burn” their own playlists from CDs, no matter what it might do to the economics of the music industry.

James Clark, marketing director at U.K.-based venture-capital firm Molten Ventures, compared Apple’s “1984” and “Crush!” ads this way: “1984: Monochrome, conformist, industrial world exploded by colourful, vibrant human. 2024: Colourful, vibrant humanity is crushed by monochrome, conformist industrial press.”

Apple announced the new iPad Pro on Tuesday, touting its “stunningly thin and light design,” available in 13- and 11-inch models with silver or “space black” finishes. They’re available to order online now and will be in stores starting May 15. The 11-inch iPad Pro (5.3 millimeters thick) starts at $999 and the 13-inch version (5.1 mm) starts at $1,299.

Watch the “Crush!” ad, created by Apple’s in-house creative team:

Brian Steinberg contributed to this article.

From Variety US