top of page

Compressing Our Thoughts on Apple's Crush Controversy

Updated: May 23

Last week, Apple released a commercial for their latest iteration of the iPad Pro. The minute long video depicted a smattering of art supplies, analog games, instruments, and equipment being crushed by a hydraulic press. When the press comes back up, the iPad Pro is revealed, suggesting the capabilities of every crushed tool now resides in the newest iPad.

The ad was met with backlash from consumers and Apple quickly released an apology. As the ad made the rounds in the Hawthorne office, we decided to compile some of our thoughts on the commercial, its intended message, and its unintended consequences.

“I thought this was a cool advertisement, but I also see why it received backlash. From the creative team’s approach, they tapped into a trend of ‘satisfying’ videos, which are videos that show almost therapeutic and Zen-like visuals of satisfying moments and events happening, like a hydraulic press smashing a bag of Sour Patch Kids or Play-Doh or the TikTok channel of rolling a bowling ball down a ramp into glass jugs of brightly colored paint. The visual of the hydraulic press compressing all of these artistic endeavors symbolizes that all of these core human interest tools can be found in one easy-to-use device. However, it does leave you with the impression that you can ditch these artistic tools and just use an iPad, which is simply untrue. An iPad can never replace those tools.”

 - Dan Kowalski, Managing Supervisor 

“I’m not going to jump in the trenches to defend Apple, but I will certainly say I don’t think the ad was intended to channel the message its critics are taking away. I personally thought it was a clever use of imagery to show the supposed power of the new iPad, but I simultaneously sympathize with the people who winced at the visceral destruction of instruments, art supplies, and other technology. I can’t help but wonder if Apple took such a big swing (and a miss) with this one because they were desperately hoping their marketing would prop up what most people are going to see as ‘just another iPad.”  

- Jonathon Sadowski, Senior Account Manager 


“It’s a funny illustration of where technology, culture, media and all these fractured little audiences intersect. Some people are responding to the iPad ad as if the Library of Alexandria was burning before their very eyes. But it also looks very similar to these very popular, very mindless YouTube and TikTok channels my kid watches where people push buckets of paint and all sorts of stuff into hydraulic presses. He says it’s ‘satisfying’ to watch. These things have millions of views. The ad might be a flash in the pan controversy, but it also says something interesting about the differing perception audiences and generations have based on contextual thinking, cultural values, lived experience, etc. As creator, or a brand, or whatever—you can’t always control what people assign meaning to.” 

- Richard Ray, Managing Supervisor 


“I think this ad has stirred up so much negative feedback because it prompts an emotional reaction to the destruction of so much creativity. A piano, a sculpture, paints, books, a guitar, vintage technology and so many other important vessels of creativity are crushed in one fell swoop underneath a hydraulic press. Human beings all have emotional attachments to objects like these, and seeing them be wasted and destroyed sparks an uneasy feeling. Apple may have taken their marketing a bit too far with this one and underestimated the humanity of their audience.” - Anna VanWingerden, Intern 


“While I can’t say that I felt the same visceral reaction watching this ad as the many viewers criticizing Apple, I certainly see the controversy behind the advert. A recent opinion piece published in the Chicago Tribune criticizes Apple for taking away the humanizing element from its technology. Thinking about the history of Apple’s brand identity, so many of its iconic advertisements positioned Apple’s products as tools to amplify human creativity and genius. Where I think this controversial ad misses the mark, is that the brand positioning has shifted from a tool that uplifts and amplifies human creativity to one that can replace it. It’s also hard to see items that might hold sentimental value to a person being completely destroyed.” - Anahi Leyva, Senior Account Executive 


“I think the negative reaction to this ad marks a larger shift in consumer culture. People are realizing the value of objects that do not prioritize convenience. ‘Painting’ on your iPad will lack the subtle technique that artists have explored for thousands of years. The rhythm of playing an instrument is completely lost on a touch screen. An iPad cannot provide the tactile satisfaction of an arcade game. The iPad has its own unique uses; there’s no need to copy others. Apple’s mistake was communicating their product as a replacement rather than an addition to the tools we already love.” - George Murphy, Intern 


bottom of page