Japan Had an Especially Negative Reaction to Apple’s “Crush” Ad

Japan Had an Especially Negative Reaction to Apple’s “Crush” Ad

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Apple ad reaction
Pictures: KiRi / PIXTA(ピクスタ); Apple
Apple's controversial "Crush" ad received a negative reaction worldwide - and especially in Japan. We've rounded up some of the most pained reactions from artists and customers on social media.

On May 7, Apple released a new commercial for the iPad Pro, touting its new thin look and M4 processing chip. Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted the ad on X (formerly Twitter) and hyped up the product with the closer “Just imagine all the things it’ll be used to create.”

That statement rang false, given that the ad features an industrial crusher destroying just about every musical instrument and art material. In the minute-long ad, Sonny & Cher’s “All I Ever Need is You” plays as instruments and creative tools are unceremoniously destroyed to create the new iPad Pro. The attempt to market the product’s all-in-one versatility and slim look instead came off as tone-deaf and dystopian in a time when corporations continue to decimate creative industries brutally.

Unsurprisingly, the ad received an overwhelming amount of criticism — and the criticism from Japan was especially loud.

Crush! | iPad Pro | Apple

Introducing the all-new iPad Pro. Outrageous performance by the first-ever M4 chip. With the breakthrough Ultra Retina XDR display. All in the thinnest Apple product ever. iPad has never been this powerful. Or this thin. Learn More: https://apple.co/3QEsTSv Audio Descriptions: https://youtu.be/uT24U56I1ZA “All I Ever Need Is You” by Sonny & Cher – https://apple.co/sonny-cher-all-I-need #iPad #iPadPro #ApplePencilPro Welcome to the official Apple YouTube channel.

An insult to artists

Product designer Wada Satoshi, an avowed Apple fan, expressed “grave disappointment and shock” over the ad. “This is especially unbearable to the many Japanese who believe objects like wood and stone have souls,” he tweeted. “What’s wrong with you, Apple?”

Tweet from designer Satoshi Wada reacting to Apple's Crush ad
Source: X

X user @takasugi_mbsjk replied to Cook’s tweet in English and Japanese, expressing the reverence artists of all stripes have for the tools of their trade. “Your predecessors showed us their dreams. You showed us our nightmares,” they wrote.

The ad also left Ling Tosite Sigure drummer Nakano Pierre very uneasy. “I understand the things you’re trying to say and convey. However, as a musician, the way you expressed that is just unacceptable,” he tweeted.

Seikei University professor Shiozawa Kaz said he felt pain all over his body when watching the ad. “It’s beyond sad that Apple, a company that loves music, would express itself like this,” he tweeted. “Are you essentially saying digital instruments have eclipsed analog? I really hope Apple hasn’t grown so arrogant.”

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There was a small bit of positivity amid the gloom when musician Meiwa Denki remixed the ad to play in reverse, replacing Sonny & Cher with one of his own songs. It currently has 3.3 million views on X and received much more positive feedback than the original.

A needless waste

In most Japanese reactions I read on X, there was an emphasis on the waste of the physical objects themselves. By contrast, many reactions from native English users focused on the symbolism behind the ad.

Reverence and respect for objects and tools exist globally. However, at the risk of exoticizing the country, Wada’s mention of objects with souls does touch upon a couple of intersecting mindsets in Japan.

There’s the mottainai way of thinking emphasizing a mindful use of resources and avoiding needless waste born out of a conscious effort to balance food production and population growth as Japan industrialized. Mottainai also has roots in the animism of Shinto which posits all objects, manmade or natural, have spirits that should be treated with respect.

This belief appears in Japanese mythology as the yokai Tsukumogami (付喪神), manmade tools or household objects that gain a spirit if they’ve existed for a century. Within that category is the biwa-bokuboku (琵琶牧々), an anthropomorphic being with the head of a biwa, known for becoming a nuisance and bemoaning their neglect if forgotten for too long. Apple’s blatant destruction of objects seemingly in working condition contradicts sensibilities with a lot of history behind them.

While Apple issued an apology in the marketing and media magazine Ad Age on May 9, the ad will undoubtedly be one many will refuse to forget – or forgive.

Sources

Tweet by @SWdesignTOKYO. Twitter

Tweet by @takasugi_mbsjk. Twitter

Tweet by @Pinakano. Twitter

Tweet by @shiology. Twitter

Tweet by @MaywaDenki. Twitter

「iPad Pro」PR動画に楽器破壊する映像、アップルが謝罪「的外れだった」. Yomiuri Shinbun

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Alyssa Pearl Fusek

Alyssa Pearl Fusek is a freelance writer currently haunting the Pacific Northwest. She holds a B.A. in Japanese Studies from Willamette University. When she's not writing for Unseen Japan, she's either reading about Japan, writing poetry and fiction, or drinking copious amounts of jasmine green tea. Find her on Bluesky at @apearlwrites.

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