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Jack Ramage
13 May 2024, 13:30

Apple apologises for ‘tone-deaf’ iPad ad showing musical instruments crushed

“Crushing a piano, trumpet, and guitar evokes the same primal horrific sacrilege as watching books burn”

Apple apologises for ‘tone-deaf’ iPad ad
Apple via AP

Apple has issued an apology over its iPad ad showing musical instruments being crushed in an industrial press. 

The one-minute and eight-second ad was released last Wednesday and was intended to showcase its thinnest iPad Pro yet, highlighting how creativity is condensed into the latest model. You can watch it here.

It quickly came under scrutiny on social media, with many, including several celebrities, arguing that the advert celebrated the destruction of human experiences.

Actor and filmmaker Justine Bateman said Apple's ad was "crushing the arts," while Hugh Grant labeled the ad as "the destruction of the human experience, courtesy of Silicon Valley." 

Songwriter Crispin Hunt called the advert "surprisingly tone-deaf" from a company that "previously enabled and championed creativity.”

“Crushing a piano, trumpet, and guitar evokes the same primal horrific sacrilege as watching books burn,” he added. “I imagine they’ll see how out of tune this is once they turn off the autotune.”

DJ Jacques Greene referred to it as "one of the most depressing ads I’ve ever seen", while Brooklyn's WTCHCRFT described it as "a visual representation of the capitalist obsession with constant 'innovation' it’s unsustainable and is one of the chief reasons for its decay and inevitable downfall."

In response to the backlash, Apple's vice president of marketing communications, Tor Myhren, said in a statement: "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 of ways users express themselves and bring their ideas to life through iPad. We missed the mark with this video, and we're sorry."

The advert comes at a time when AI is shaking up the music and arts industry. Earlier this month, a specialised cross-party parliamentary group urged the UK government to progress stalled plans to implement artificial intelligence regulations and artist protections. TikTok and UMG also announced a new deal to address the issues of generative AI in music earlier this month. 

Last November, a Pirate Studios survey found that more than half of artists would not disclose if they were using AI in their production process. During the same month, research from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry indicated that most music fans believe the use of AI in music production should be restricted.

Revisit Declan McGlynn's 2021 feature on how artificial intelligence was already shaping music production, as part of his AI Futures series.