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A rare misstep by Apple – “we missed the mark”

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A rare misstep by Apple – “we missed the mark”

The latest ad by Apple

Apple rarely misses the mark in marketing. Their worldwide creative team has produced some of the world’s most iconic advertisements over the years. Its 1984 Super Bowl Ad was hailed the ‘greatest ad ever made’ by many industry experts, but the latest commercial for the tech giant’s new 2024 iPad Pro has “missed the mark”.

The ad, titled ‘Crush!’, aimed to showcase the all-new device as a tool to unleash creativity, but has instead sparked controversy among creators. 

The 68-second commercial depicts various artistic tools including a trumpet, arcade machine, piano and camera, among others, being crushed by a large hydraulic press machine, leaving only the thinnest ever 5.1mm iPad Pro intact. While the ad intended to highlight the powerful device’s capabilities, many critics have labelled the video “a failure” with TechCrunch even calling it “disgusting”.

After the commercial was published on Apple’s YouTube account following its 7 May product announcement event, viewers took to social media to express their dismay, citing the timing of the commercial – amid the unpredictable advancements in artificial intelligence – and its impact on creatives as the real reason for ad’s misfire.

Why ‘Crush!’ crushed the dreams of creatives

To be honest, the actual commercial is not the reason the campaign received backlash. In fact, the video was quite creative in putting Apple’s spin on the viral social media trend of crushing random objects with a hydraulic press. Instead, as AI continues to evolve, there are apprehensions in the industry about the intersection of technology and creativity allowing for the potential displacement of human imagination by machines. 

According to Investopedia, creative destruction is “the dismantling of long-standing practices in order to make way for innovation” or in essence: destroying the old to make way for the new. The ad’s point: ‘you can do all this on an iPad’ is obvious, but what’s clear is the things being crushed represent the tangible and the real – which has value to society and creatives. 

We’re all grappling with the shift towards digital media, which does have a multitude of benefits, but also raises questions about the value of tangible things. Inadvertently – or maybe not – the ad tapped into these already growing anxieties of the sector leading to significant backlash from its target audience.

Despite initial silence on the matter, Apple did issue an apology with its vice president of marketing communications Tor Myhren making an exclusive statement to Ad Age, acknowledging that the ad had “missed the mark.”

“Creativity is in our DNA at Apple, and it’s incredibly important to us to design products that empower creatives all over the world,” Myhren said. “Our goal is to always celebrate the myriad of ways users express themselves and bring their ideas to life through iPad. We missed the mark with this video, and we’re sorry.”

The importance of ‘reading the room’

The apology signals the importance of authenticity and sensitivity in marketing. Apple’s decision to pull the ad from television and paid media also underscores the brand’s commitment to addressing and listening to the concerns of its audience.

The incident serves as a cautionary tale for marketers about the potential pitfalls of misinterpreting audience sentiment and the importance of aligning brand messaging with values. In an age where consumers demand authenticity and transparency, brands must tread carefully to avoid alienating their audience.

Ultimately, the tech giant’s misstep highlights the evolving landscape of marketing and the need for brands to continuously reassess their strategies in response to shifting consumer attitudes and expectations. As technology continues to shape the way we communicate and create, marketers must remain vigilant in their efforts to connect with their target market in both meaningful and respectful ways.

The fallout from Apple’s ‘Crush!’ ad offers valuable lessons for marketers about the power of perception, the importance of empathy and the risks of misalignment between brand messaging and audience values.

By listening to feedback, acknowledging mistakes and demonstrating a commitment to genuine communication, brands can navigate controversies and crisis management, and strengthen their relationships with consumers.

Yes, while there were definitely better ways to promote their thinnest-ever device, the ad demonstrates that creative concepts don’t always perform as expected once unleashed into the unpredictable and changing minds of consumers.

Apple rarely missteps, so this controversy is a notable blemish of the company’s mostly clean and innovative marketing resume. 


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Billy Klein

Billy Klein is a content producer at Niche Media.

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