Digital Marketing

Apple Apologizes for Controversial Ad: Here's How Your Brand Can Avoid The Same Mistake

7 minute read | May 14, 2024 Share Share

“Worst.  Commercial.  Ever.” was the harsh sentiment shared by an X (formerly Twitter) user after the release of Apple’s newest iPad Pro commercial. Shared on the same platform by Apple CEO Tim Cook, the ad received significant backlash and criticism after seemingly projecting traditional creativity in a negative light. 


The ad, aptly entitled, “Crush!”  showed lines and rows of creative materials sitting on top of a hydraulic press before every item was slowly crushed and busted at the pressure. Once the hydraulic press was raised once again, a slim iPad Pro was seen sitting in the space where the crushed items would have been. 


Cook shared the video on the platform, adding a caption that read:

"Meet the new iPad Pro: the thinnest product we’ve ever created, the most advanced display we’ve ever produced, with the incredible power of the M4 chip. Just imagine all the things it’ll be used to create."

Watch the controversial ad below.



Although the ad in itself is open-ended, many of the viewers did not appreciate the common message they had picked up from the advertisement. 


"I’m not sure ‘wanton destruction of all the good and beautiful things in this world’ was really the vibe you were trying for," one user wrote under Cook’s X post. 


"I felt sad when I saw creative tools such as musical instruments and cameras being destroyed. I don't think the creators will like this video." another user chimed in. 


The negative reactions that flooded the post prompted the company’s marketing communications vice president Tor Myhren to provide an official statement released by the magazine Ad Age. 


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


The Ad’s Efficacy in Technical Scales

Although the backlash for the advertisement was evident, internet advertising company System1 (formerly known as OpenMail) provided a technical scoring of the ad in their star rating. The ad earned a low spike rating of 0.78, which meant that the controversial ad had poor short-term sales potential. It also scored a 1.9 in effectiveness. 


According to System1’s findings, Apple’s brand rating is always excellent. After the release of Crush!, it scored a modest 77—a score that just brushes the benchmark of brand recognition. 


Listening To Your Community 

Apple’s advertisement didn’t just raise concern from the creative community, it also raised some eyebrows from members of the marketing industry. Regardless of the actual message of Apple’s “Crush!”, the brand received poor retention and effectiveness from its target consumers. It also achieved a significantly low short-term sales potential from System1. 


According to a case study in 2023, Apple has always been widely accepted as a design and creative company. They often sell their products as exceptional tools to support creativity, yet their most recent marketing campaign seems to boast more of the technical capabilities of their product, rather than focusing on the unbridled creativity Apple users might experience with the newest iPad Pro. 


"The symbolism of indiscriminately crushing beautiful creative tools is an interesting choice," another X user commented under Cook’s post. 


While an official apology has been released to Ad Age, Apple refuses to make more comments to other media outlets. The controversial advertisement is also still up on various online platforms for everyone’s review. 


Creating and fostering a dedicated online community has always been one of Apple’s marketing strengths. However, brushing past one of their community’s dominant identities may have led them to “miss the mark” in their latest marketing campaign. So as they say in the marketing world, “Don’t get ignored by your customers.” Ironically, Apple’s “Crush!” ad received a lot of attention for all the wrong reasons. Listening to an online community is the last thing to brush past for a ‘powerful campaign’ in digital marketing. 


Having an online community is valuable in digital marketing. When consumers rally behind your brand’s message, it creates a strong enough influence on their product preference and perception. When customers know what to expect from a brand, they are more likely to return and engage with it. Preserving this expectation in all marketing campaigns will avoid the chance of confusion—or in Apple’s most recent faux pas, offense.


When brands connect, listen, and consider their online community’s input in producing advertising campaigns, the target audience will most likely listen and support—something that will create a necessary give-and-take dynamic that fosters consumer loyalty for the brand. 


Do you want to foster an online community for your brand? PurpleBug it! You can also visit our website to see the different solutions we can offer you. 

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