If the new Apple iPad ad is worthy of an apology, we’re all doomed

13 May 2024
Ryan O'Connell

As is often the way in modern times, I encountered the outrage before the object of said outrage.

Given the tone - and volume - of comments/headlines I came across regarding Apple’s new iPad ad, I was expecting to eventually watch a piece of creative so truly appalling and offensive, that it may end civilisation as we know it. Yes, the villagers were most certainly upset.

So as I searched for the ad (which wasn’t that easy to find, considering the global trainwreck I was led to believe it was), I began to wonder what horror Apple would have to produce to get my blood boiling.

Perhaps I was about to witness an iPad suffocating a puppy? While proclaiming Dua Lipa had no talent? Before spitting on a Lakers jersey?

At the very least, I thought I was about to watch the worst ad ever made.

Thankfully, it was none of that. Conversely, my initial reaction was bewilderment as to why so many people were so upset. Indeed, for all for all the controversy the iPad ad has generated, I suspect I may have the most controversial take of all: it’s fine.

In fact, it might even be good advertising. It’s visually arresting, stands out from the clutter, and clearly communicates what Apple wants people to know: they’ve released a new iPad Pro that’s the most powerful ever, and is also the thinnest.

That’s a long way from what I would classify as a ‘fail’. Yet that’s what a lot of marketing folks were labelling it. Actually, a ‘fail’ was the softest of comments. A few of the more inflammatory descriptions included:

“The destruction of the human experience, courtesy of Silicon Valley.”


“A metaphor for what AI is doing to society.”


“A smack in the face to all struggling artists.”

“Crushing the arts.”

Wow. Not a lot of ambiguity there.

Proving I’m a lousy strategist, I didn’t even clock any of those outtakes. I simply thought the ad was a metaphor for the vast array of things in culture that can be viewed and enjoyed on an iPad. With the ‘crushing’ component simply an interesting executional device that dramatises how all of it can be experienced within an even thinner iPad.

Clearly I’m an idiot.

Don’t feel too bad for me though; that idiocy ensured I wasn’t triggered into posting a lengthy, time-consuming, LinkedIn post that lambasted Apple. All for three likes and a comment from my mum.

However, proving that getting outraged is contagious, there was one element of this whole fiasco that seriously bothered me, and is what should actually be causing some fury: Apple apologising.

Honestly, if that ad is the new benchmark for an apology, then there’s going to be a lot of marketers and creative agencies needing to say “sorry” for the work they’ve done, or are going to do. Myself included. I’d estimate the new iPad ad is better than 75% of the work most people have done in their entire careers.

The ad may not be your cup of tea, and perhaps even upset you, and that’s OK. Creative will forever be subjective, and no campaign in the history of humankind has experienced universal love.

Yet this one’s not even remotely worthy of saying sorry for.

What does merit an apology is the avalanche of boring, uninteresting, ineffective, wallpaper, that is so lacking in creativity that that no one even notices it, let alone talks about it. Such work is an unfathomable waste of time, money, effort and talent.

By all means, beg for forgiveness for that. There’s certainly plenty of it.

With all the hot takes the ad generated, I’ll leave you with mine: apologising for the iPad ad is a far greater threat to creativity and the arts than the rather innocuous ad itself. It sets a horrible and totally unnecessary precedent, and will make some marketers even more nervous and gun-shy.

If the new Apple iPad ad is worthy of an apology, then we’re all doomed, and should just pack up our bags and fold the entire industry. Creativity is dead.

Sheesh, now look what you’ve gone and made me do. I’m being melodramatic too.

Ryan O’Connell is Chief Strategy Officer & Founder, jnr.

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