Technology

Apple’s New iPad Ad Leaves Its Creative Audience Feeling … Flat

The trumpet is the first thing to be crushed. Next, the industrial compressor flattens a row of paint cans, loops a piano and levels what appears to be a marble bust. In a final act of destruction, he pops the eyes of a yellow ball-shaped emoji.

As the compressor rises, it reveals Apple’s latest product: the updated iPad Pro.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, released the ad titled “Crush” on Tuesday after the company held an event to announce new tablets. “Meet the new iPad Pro: the thinnest product we’ve ever created,” Cook wrote, adding, “Just imagine everything it will be used to create.”

For decades, Apple has been the spokesperson for the creative class. He lured designers, musicians and film editors by promising that his products would help them “think differently.”

But some creators took a different message from the one-minute iPad ad. Rather than seeing a device that could help them create, as Mr. Cook suggested, they saw a metaphor for how Big Tech has profited from their work by crushing or co-opting the artistic tools that humanity has used for centuries.

The image was particularly troubling at a time when artists fear that generative artificial intelligence, capable of writing poetry and creating films, could take away their jobs.

“It’s unusual in its cruelty,” said Justin Ouellette, a software designer in Portland, Ore., who does animation work and is a longtime user of Apple products. “Many people see this as a betrayal of their commitment to human creative expression and a deafness to the pressures these artists are feeling right now.”

Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

It’s the latest in a series of recent promotional blunders from a company widely considered a marketing heavyweight. Marketing of the Apple Vision Pro, launched in January, has struggled to help this device break through to many customers. Last year, Apple was criticized for performing an awkward skit in which Octavia Spencer played Mother Earth, leading a company meeting about the company’s efforts to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Apple has been considered an advertising visionary since the 1980s. Its “1984” Super Bowl commercial to introduce the Macintosh computer is one of the most famous commercials ever made. The ad, developed by the Chiat/Day agency, showed an actor throwing a sledgehammer through a screen projecting the face of a “Big Brother” character, meant to be a metaphor for IBM.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 after a 12-year absence, he sought to recapture the magic of marketing. Together, he and Lee Clow, the ad designer behind the “1984” spot, developed the “Think Different” campaign. This paved the way for the famous “Get a Mac” spots, featuring a Mac and a PC, and the original iPhone advertising, which showed people in classic movies and TV shows picking up a phone and saying ” Good morning “.

Apple’s marketing presented its products as easy to use. It presented PCs and Android phones as devices for business executives working on spreadsheets, while Macs and iPhones were tools for film editors, photographers and writers.

But Apple’s advertising has been spotty over the past dozen years. It pulled a 2012 campaign that featured “geniuses” from its Apple Store on planes. Critics dismissed a later spot, “Designed by Apple in California”, calling it “lame”.

Following these setbacks, Mr. Cook transferred advertising oversight from Phil Schiller, the company’s longtime marketing director, to Tor Myhren, former president and chief creative officer at Grey, the advertising agency who created the baby E-Trade.

Under the leadership of Mr. Myhren, who arrived in 2016, Apple developed some of its ads with its own creative team and others in collaboration with an external agency, Media Arts Lab. He was recognized at the Cannes Lions Awards, the advertising industry’s flagship event, for a spot on AirPods called “Bounce”, which showed a man bouncing on the sidewalk while listening to music. Last year, Apple was named creative brand of the year for its “RIP Leon” ad, in which a man sent a message on his iPhone that a lizard in his care had died, then deleted it when the lizard suddenly turned around.

Mr. Myhren and Media Arts Lab did not respond to requests for comment on who was behind the “Crush” spot.

Michael J. Miraflor, chief brand officer at Hannah Grey, a venture capital firm, said on its “1984” ad.

“It’s not even that it’s boring or mundane,” Mr. Miraflor wrote. “It makes me feel…bad?” Disappointed ?

News Source : www.nytimes.com
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