By Haddon Libby

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories, you tell.”   – Seth Godin, American Marketing Association Hall of Fame.

Apple was forced to withdraw its new ad promoting an upgraded iPad promoted as the strongest and thinnest iPad ever.  In that ad, Apple showed a hydraulic press filled with the types of things that you can watch, read or hear when using an iPad.  This meant that a trumpet was crushed along with a piano, a Pac-Man machine, books, paint, a metronome, a phonograph, a Roman bust, a guitar, a toy Angry Bird, and emoji balls.  When the hydraulic press opens, a sleek new iPad is all that remains.

The ad immediately drew harsh criticism from all quarters.


Songwriter Crispin Hunt said this on X: “Crushing a piano, trumpet & guitar evokes the same primal horrific sacrilege as watching books burn.”  Actor Hugh Grant said, “The destruction of the human experience. Courtesy of Silicon Valley”

In another time, the ad might have been viewed as a cool depiction of what the iPad can do.  In today’s world where Generative Artificial Intelligence is emerging as a threat to human creativity and jobs, the ad seemed more like a Dystopian warning where computers and Generative Artificial Intelligence replace the learned crafts of humans.

Given the early ability of GenAI to write articles, create songs and videos, it is only a matter of time before a digitalized deceased actor is used as the star of a film.  Could new cloned Elvis Presley songs be in our future?  What about the next great novel or symphony?  Could GenAI be the creator?

Noting the sour reaction to the ad, Tom Myhren, Apple’s Vice President of Marketing Communications said, “We missed the market with this video and we’re sorry.”

Clearly, the ‘Crushed’ ad by Apple told a different story than the company was hoping for. It has been removed from all future marketing campaigns.

“The Habit” burger chain has a current ad that should be nominated for the Hall of Fame of Bad Ads.  Rather than tempting one to buy one of its charred beef patties, the ad evokes images of human sacrifice and suicide.

In the ad, “Charlie” the three-inch tall, Marty Feldman-eyed charcoal walks into the store.  A husband, wife and daughter siting near the door seem to know why Charlie is there.  This tiny, beaten-up briquette walks alone with the sun peering through The Habit logo on the door behind him. A grandfatherly man gives Charlie an approving look while the counter worker gives him a Stepford wife stare.  The ad cuts to little Charlie scaling the 4-foot-tall grill.  The whole scene is reminiscent of the Children of Llullaillaco in an ancient Incan ritual.

Two potential Incan cooks watch nearby as it becomes apparent that Charlie will soon sacrifice himself on the grill below.

How can these guys stand by while so many children, I mean charcoals, go through this ritual?  As Charlie completes his ascent, he sees the fires that await him and turns toward the hungry crowd.  Two customers at the counter look with anticipation of the good things that this sacrifice, just seconds away, will bring.

The camera returns to show Charlie throwing himself on the raging flames at which point a flash of fire replaces Charlie with a nearly cooked and charred burger.  The Habit then proclaims itself to be better by char.

This ad was made by ad agency Barrett Hofherr for The Habit’s owner, Yum! Brands.

Ads often send subliminal messaging so that the viewer is more likely to buy the product.  This ad seems to miss the mark as it subliminally supports suicide and reminds us of the awful Incan behavior.

Haddon Libby is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Winslow Drake Investment Management.  For more information on our services, please visit