Apple has apologised after a backlash over an advert that showed objects, including musical instruments and books, being crushed by a hydraulic press.

Apple said the advert fell short of its goal of empowering and celebrating creatives, in a statement released to marketing publication Ad Age.

The video was meant to demonstrate how creativity has been compressed into the latest iPad.

But celebrities including Hugh Grant and Justine Bateman reacted with horror to the destruction shown in the advert.

“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,” Tor Myhren, Apple’s VP of marketing communications said in the statement.

Apple boss Tim Cook has been called tone deaf for his post on X, formerly Twitter, about the device, where he asked people to “imagine all the things it’ll be used to create”.

The advert attempts to show what Apple’s latest tablet is capable of, such as watching television programmes, listening to music and playing video games, while making the point that the new device is particularly thin.

It does this by using a video theme that has been around for almost a decade of musical instruments being crushed.

However, in this instance, it seem the tech giant has also succeeded in mangling its own reputation, with complainants saying the ad actually shows how tech is stifling creativity rather than encouraging it.

Actor Hugh Grant labelled it “the destruction of the human experience, courtesy of Silicon Valley”.

The criticism is particularly pointed because of the concerns in many of the creative industries about artificial intelligence (AI) taking people’s jobs.

Actor and film-maker Justine Bateman, a vocal critic of the use of AI in the film industry, said Apple’s ad was “crushing the arts.”

Multi-platinum selling songwriter Crispin Hunt called the act of destroying musical instruments evocative of burning books.

The comments underneath Mr Cook’s post on X have been particularly negative, with one person calling it “extremely distasteful”, and another saying it makes them feel “ashamed to buy Apple products”.

People based in Japan appear to be prominent amongst the critics, which some said “lacked respect”.

Some said this was based in “tsukumogami” – a term from Japanese folklore describing a tool which can contain a spirit or even soul of its own.

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

The video has also drawn unfavourable comparisons with one of Apple’s most famous adverts, which aired in 1984.

In a nod to its year of release (and the novel by George Orwell), the ad depicts an athlete fighting back against a dystopian future.

One user said the new ad was “almost quite literally the exact opposite” of it, and another said it showed Apple had “become the faceless culture crashing force they rallied against in 1984”.

And for one person, it was “a visual and metaphorical bookend” to the original advert.


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