Media & Entertainment

Apple’s ‘Crush’ ad is disgusting


Image Credits: Apple

Apple can generally be relied on for clever, well-produced ads, but it missed the mark with its latest, which depicts a tower of creative tools and analog items literally crushed into the form of the iPad.

Apple has since apologized for the ad and canceled plans to televise it. Apple’s VP of Marketing Tor Myhren told Ad Age: “We missed the mark with this video, and we’re sorry.” Apple declined to offer further comment to TechCrunch.

But many, including myself, had a negative and visceral reaction to this, and we should talk about why. It’s not just because we are watching stuff get crushed. There are countless video channels dedicated to crushing, burning, exploding and generally destroying everyday objects. Plus, of course, we all know that this kind of thing happens daily at transfer stations and recycling centers. So it isn’t that.

And it isn’t that the stuff is itself so valuable. Sure, a piano is worth something. But we see them blown up in action movies all the time and don’t feel bad. I like pianos, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do without a few disused baby grands. Same for the rest: It’s mostly junk you could buy off Craigslist for a few bucks, or at a dump for free. (Maybe not the editing station.)

The problem isn’t with the video itself, which in fairness to the people who staged and shot it, is actually very well done. The problem is not the media, but the message.

We all get the ad’s ostensible point: You can do all this stuff in an iPad. Great. We could also do it on the last iPad, of course, but this one is thinner (no one asked for that, by the way; now cases won’t fit) and some made-up percentage better.

What we all understand, though — because unlike Apple ad executives, we live in the world — is that the things being crushed here represent the material, the tangible, the real. And the real has value. Value that Apple clearly believes it can crush into yet another black mirror.

This belief is disgusting to me. And apparently to many others, as well.

Destroying a piano in a music video or Mythbusters episode is actually an act of creation. Even destroying a piano (or monitor, or paint can, or drum kit) for no reason at all is, at worst, wasteful!

But what Apple is doing is destroying these things to convince you that you don’t need them — all you need is the company’s little device, which can do all that and more, and no need for annoying stuff like strings, keys, buttons, brushes or mixing stations.

We’re all dealing with the repercussions of media moving wholesale toward the digital and always-online. In many ways, it’s genuinely good! I think technology has been hugely empowering.

But in other, equally real ways, the digital transformation feels harmful and forced, a technotopian billionaire-approved vision of the future where every child has an AI best friend and can learn to play the virtual guitar on a cold glass screen.

Does your child like music? They don’t need a harp; throw it in the dump. An iPad is good enough. Do they like to paint? Here, Apple Pencil, just as good as pens, watercolors, oils! Books? Don’t make us laugh! Destroy them. Paper is worthless. Use another screen. In fact, why not read in Apple Vision Pro, with even faker paper?

What Apple seems to have forgotten is that it is the things in the real world — the very things Apple destroyed — that give the fake versions of those things value in the first place.

A virtual guitar can’t replace a real guitar; that’s like thinking a book can replace its author.

That doesn’t mean we can’t value both for different reasons. But the Apple ad sends the message that the future it wants doesn’t have bottles of paint, dials to turn, sculpture, physical instruments, paper books. Of course, that’s the future it’s been working on selling us for years now, it just hadn’t put it quite so bluntly before.

When someone tells you who they are, believe them. Apple is telling you what it is, and what it wants the future to be, very clearly. If that future doesn’t disgust you, you’re welcome to it.

More TechCrunch

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

22 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

24 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck