Apple’s new iPad Pro ad sparks backlash over “crushing creativity” claims

A hot potato: Apple has a very long history of creating memorable commercials, from the iconic “1984” ad that introduced the Macintosh computer, to the “Get a Mac” campaign starring Justin Long and John Hodgman. Its new ad for the iPad Pro, however, is likely to be remembered for the wrong reasons.

As we’ve come to expect, Apple’s Let Loose event included an advert for the product on show, the iPad Pro. The commercial has the high production values and stylishness we’re used to seeing in Apple ads, but the way it depicts the latest tablet has led to plenty of backlash online, including from celebrities.

The ad, which you can see above, shows a giant press being slowly lowered, crushing a number of musical instruments, classical sculptures, books, paints, games, cameras, and more. When it retracts, we see an iPad Pro left in its place.

Apple’s message is obviously that everything being crushed can essentially be replicated using a very thin iPad Pro: reading books, making music, playing games, watching TV, drawing, etc. CEO Tim Cook pushed this point home on X when he asked, “imagine all the things it’ll be used to create.”

While Apple has used this sort of message in the past, it comes at a time when fears that technology is killing human creativity and costing jobs have peaked.

Actor Hugh Grant was particularly scathing, replying to Cook’s post with, “The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley.”

Justine Bateman, the filmmaker and actor who advised SAG-AFTRA on AI issues, wrote “Truly, what is wrong with you?”

Beyond actors, there are plenty of musicians, writers, artists, and plenty of other professions worried about AI’s impact on their livelihoods.

Apple talked at length about the M4’s enhanced AI performance during its Let Loose event. The iPad Pro is being hailed as the company’s first true AI device ahead of what will likely be a very AI-focused WWDC in June.

James Kochalka, the comic book artist, writer, animator, and rock musician, highlighted the problematic destruction in Apple’s ad. “I’m definitely the target audience for the new iPad Pro but this ad is tone-deaf and insulting to artists of every kind. We think of our tools with reverence and respect, and enjoy a healthy dialogue with them. Our tools are like trusted companions on the journey of art.”

As per the BBC, the ad appears to have caused particular offense to people in Japan, with several saying it “lacked respect.”

“The act of destroying tools is arrogant and offensive to us Japanese,” one person explained, while another said that musicians value their instruments “more than life itself.”

Others have noted how the ad stands in contrast to the famous 1984 ad, with Cupertino having taken the place of IBM, its then rival, as the faceless megacorporation Apple was rebelling against.

One of the most damning criticisms came from Y Combinator founder Paul Graham, who said that the late Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs “wouldn’t have shipped that ad. It would have pained him too much to watch.”

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