Boomers Imagine Computer Horrors, Averted By Gen Zs -- And Mac

Does any review of new Apple ads have to start with the obligatory rehash of the crash of last month’s “Crush”?

That video demonstrated the stuff of human creativity getting crushed enough to fit into the slimmest new iPad Pro. For a company famous for popping out award-winners, “Crush” so appalled the internet that Apple had to pull it and apologize.

The memory will soon fade, or perhaps come in for some revisionism. The sad truth? The “Crush” message was just a heavy-handed glimpse of our dark AI futures.

The real problem? The “hero” was not the iPad Pro, but rather an industrial crusher, which is anathema to actual, analog human beings.

Perhaps that’s why these three new back-to-school spots, selling the Mac laptop’s battery-life, processing power, and security features, have an overly dramatic, funny, creepy -- yet mightily human and old-school -- soul.



Also, Apple’s in-house creative team created “Crush,” while the new ads were done by the brand’s long-time agency TBWA/Media Arts Lab.

Funny, charming and human make for a winning tonic.

The spots really appeal to boomer me, which might spell trouble for Apple, since they’re aimed at Gen Z.

Directed by comedy mastermind Tom Kuntz and shot by Oscar-winning cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, the videos demonstrate some basic product features tucked into miniaturized-campy-horror films.

 I laughed out loud at “Powered,” the weirdest and funniest of the three.  It opens with the sounds of a ticking clock, foreboding music, and the clicking, encroaching heels of a librarian. She favors the signature severe librarian look of the 1950s with bun, specs, and bow-ed blouse while presiding over a very dark space. She approaches the kid innocently sitting at a table under a Tudor-ish window as he happily taps away, lost in the sophisticated digital world of design on his Mac Pro.

She loudly doubts the laptop’s ability to handle multiple apps and large files. It gets crazier when she leans right into his face and whispers, “You think it won’t crash? You’re a hot dog in a hurricane.” 

Coolly, he responds, “It’s a Mac. It’s running fine.”

An end card reads, “Supercharged by Apple silicon.”

“Found” features the prolific character actor Gary Farmer as a bow-tied, three-piece-suited professor and Ben Franklin look-alike. “Yeah. Computers have a funny way of vanishing around here” he announces, ominously. “You look away, poof, they’re gone. Some say they're sold off for parts, stickers and all.” Serial killer comes to mind.

Meanwhile a fresh-faced female student enters, searching for something. She taps an app her phone, hears a pinging sound, and announces "Found it!” as she unearths her Mac from atop a dark bench. 

“Found what?” he asks. “It’s a Mac,” she tells him, flatly. “I can use Find My.”  Still in his own reverie, the old philosophical prof wonders, “But can you find yourself?”

In “Charged,” a professor shares his depressed, mid-life crisis sensibility unasked when he tells a student that her Macbook can’t last all day without a charge.

“You’re playing a dangerous game” he says menacingly. “But I guess battery death is just a part of battery life. You get used to it, numbed to it.”

She responds, “It’s a Mac. The battery lasts all day.”

All three spots are set in traditional, early 20th century college campuses, with a throwback “Dead Poet’s Society” vibe.

But here, the “adults” (boomers) insist that their overwrought, dystopian outlooks are the correct ones, and the calm, drama-free kids show them the error of their ways.

This feels right. There’s a reverse student-to-teacher curve when it comes to ease with tech.

In the end, the students are the sly teachers.

Nothing about that crushes me.

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