The Scoop: Apple makes rare apology

Plus: Target pulls back on Pride merch; Baidu’s PR head fired for videos of harsh management style.

Apple has apologized for an advertisement

Apple took the unusual step of apologizing for an ad and pulling it from its TV rotation.

Gleefully titled “Crush!,” the advertisement hawks the new iPad Pro by showing a hydraulic press compressing a number of artistic tools, including musical instruments, paint, sculptures, fashion mannequins and more. At the end, after all these tools of human creativity are destroyed, the new iPad Pro remains.

It’s an understatement to say that the ad didn’t go over well, especially among Apple’s core constituency of creatives who do indeed use the company’s tools to aid in their artistic endeavors.

“The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley,” actor Hugh Grant posted on X. Others drew unfavorable comparisons to one of the most famous ads of all time, Apple’s own “1984,” which evokes the exact opposite ethos as “Crush!”: a sole original human battling back against the tide of gray corporatism.



“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 a statement sent to Ad Age. The choice of outlet is somewhat curious, as if the apology was due to the ad industry and not to its core audience.

The problem wasn’t the medium. It was the message.

Why it matters:

The ad misses the mark in a drastic way that’s entirely out of character for Apple. Humans aren’t looking for technology to replace our creativity – we want to augment it, to use Macs and iPads to mix the music that’s made with human hands, to photograph the sculptures we build, to enhance the drawings we create.

The timing of this ad is particularly unfortunate, as concerns about the use of AI to usurp human creativity bubbles over.

It’s a rare miss for Apple, a company known for its colorful ads that celebrate music, dance and all the things that make life worth living.

But it’s also a rare apology from Apple, and an unequivocal one at that. It uses those most powerful of words: “we’re sorry.”

The apology was swift and it was strong. It was the right thing to do. But Apple needs to take the time to acknowledge where this ad went wrong, how it so badly misjudged its audience and how it can work to rebuild that trust.

Editor’s Top Reads:

  • With Pride month just three weeks away, some of last year’s controversies are bubbling up all over again. Target has announced that it will limit its Pride collection this year after criticism, boycotts and even in-store violence followed in the wake of last year’s featuring of tuck friendly swimsuits and other trans-inclusive merchandise. CNN reports that this year, Target’s offerings will be limited to adult clothing and home goods. They’ll also only be placed in about half of stores “based on historical sales performance.” The entire line will be available online. Target will still support local Pride events, especially in its hometown of Minneapolis. The Wall Street Journal also reported that activist investors are pressuring some retailers, including Best Buy, Levi Strauss and Dell, to alter their pro-LGBTQ+ stances. So far none of these have succeeded, but it’s all a sign of the times. Stay tuned to PR Daily Monday for full coverage of how organizations are handling the Pride month ahead.
  • The head of PR for Chinese tech giant Baidu has been fired after she shared video of her harsh management style. “Why should it be my business that your child was crying?” she demanded after an employee complained that late-night pings woke their child. In another, she told an employee dealing with a breakup that, “I only care about your results,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The impact from her statements has sent the company’s stock price falling 6% in the U.S. and 3% Hong Kong and set off a major debate about China’s intense tech work culture. This is yet another reminder for PR professionals that you will be judged for how your organization treats people – how you treat people. Not only can bad management have disastrous effects on people’s lives, it can hurt the bottom line too. Don’t be a jerk; it’s good PR.
  • Local TV broadcast company Sinclair has announced that it is looking to sell up to a third of its 185 stations, including major markets like Minneapolis, Austin and Pittsburgh, CNBC reported. It’s also looking to sell the Tennis Channel. The sale of the local stations in particular could represent a major shakeup: Sinclair has long been known for its conservative slant, and an ownership change could mean a big change in the local media market.

Allison Carter is editor-in-chief of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.


One Response to “The Scoop: Apple makes rare apology”

    Eric F.-X. Perrault says:

    It simply boggles the mind that Apple let this horrid piece of ad creative go through.
    A company that size doesn’t focus group their ads?
    It’s like their marketing department is totally inept and I can only assume that Myhren is now looking for work at a greatly reduced remuneration level somewhere they don’t have the internet.
    What an utter clown show.

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