Oct 15

New Apple Watch ads: a midcourse correction

Ah, much better. Thank you Apple.

At long last, nearly six months after Apple Watch started shipping, Apple has launched a Watch campaign that might turn some heads. Or better yet, open some eyes.

The new ads are actually the polar opposite of the previous ones.

If you’re the kind, forgiving type, you might see the change as TechCrunch does:

These ads signal somewhat of a value shift in Apple’s Watch advertising as the product matures and the company looks to showcase its utility a bit more seriously.

Interesting. Where I come from, the best time to showcase a product’s utility is when it’s launched.

The simple truth is, the first Watch campaign was soft and fuzzy — long on emotion and short on lust. Way too many people reacted to those spots by saying “I still don’t get why I’d want one.”

The new campaign is not only 100x more clear—it actually gives the Watch a personality.

The new ads convey their messages in two very Apple Watch-like ways.

First, they’re more like Glances than apps. At 15 seconds each, they tell you what you need to know, and then they’re gone.

Second, they evoke a sense of fashion, which is part of the Apple Watch DNA. You get that from the actors, the stylized background and the music.

I do think the lifestyle ads that ran prior to this campaign were beautifully produced. (Apple ads are always beautifully produced.) I just don’t think they were particularly effective.

And if you don’t agree with me, maybe you’ll agree with Apple—because its actions tell the story.

Rarely (if ever) has Apple abandoned ship on a campaign that’s working well. The original iPhone campaign — which created lust by clearly showing the features — ran in pretty much the same form for a good three years. The original iPad campaign continued in a similar format. The Mac vs. PC campaign ran for four years.

If the lifestyle ads were generating the kind of enthusiasm Apple demands, it’s safe to assume they’d still be running.

But they’re not.

So now we’ve moved to a fresher, clearer, more inventive place. Better late than never.

As a result, I think there’s a far greater likelihood that more people will be saying “Oh, now I get it.” Instead of “Huh?”

See the other five ads in this campaign here:





  • Gest2016

    I agree the ads are better. I finally put my finger on why I haven’t felt compelled to buy the AppleWatch yet, and it hit me when I saw the gorgeous new round Samsung watch. And I say this as a lifelong Apple fan and someone who generally holds Samsung with contempt. So let me explain.

    The latest Samsung watch is round. The interface is round. Everything about it screams “Watch” and not “computer on my wrist.” Samsung clearly spent some time thinking about what it means to interact with information on a round interface, and it makes clever use of the bezel to control functionality in a much more intuitive way than the AppleWatch, which is pretty universally derided for its opaque and non-intuitive interface.

    OK here’s my critique: Would Steve Jobs have allowed Apple to ship an interface that is square or would he have pushed his engineering team to go “all in” on producing a round watch with an innovative round interface? I believe the product produced under Tim Cook is “good enough” but I know at the end of the day Tim is a numbers and operations guy.

    I miss the old Apple when they were committed to “think different’. The day Apple truly embraces a product that looks, feels, acts like a high-end watch on my wrist I will buy one. I don’t want a miniature iPhone on my wrist. I want a watch.

  • rogifan

    How is designing a a smartwatch to look like a mechanical watch thinking different? All that is saying is nobody will buy this product unless it looks like something that already exists. And yes I’ve seen videos of the Gear S 2 and it doesn’t look any less clunky than Watch or any Android Wear watch. I mean it has a task switcher and allows for text input for godssake! Neither of those things should be on a smartwatch.

    I’m not saying Watch is perfect by any means but please let’s not argue there’s anything innovative about round. If round was the way to go we’d have round phones, computers and TVs. We don’t. I use my Watch for many things, not just telling time. If I just wanted a watch, I’d just buy a watch. And considering so many people don’t wear watches these days obviously the round form factor isn’t a big deal otherwise people would still be wearing them!

    Steve Jobs once said (and I’m paraphrasing) design is not just how something looks it’s how it works. To me all these round smart watches are the the epitome of form over function.

  • rogifan

    I wonder if these ads were done in house or external? They’re so much better than the previous ads that were dark, serious and too long.

  • Gest2016

    Rogifan, I hear you. My reaction to the Samsung watch vs. Apple watch is purely emotional; I can’t explain it, but the minute I saw the round interface of the Samung I had an “aha” moment. Like when I saw the iPhone for the first time. I have tried VERY hard to convince myself to like the Apple Watch and even its square form factor, but ultimately it looks clunky to me. And for me Apple products are an emotional as well as rational purchase, so I’ve gotta “feel” it. We’ll see how this all plays out, but I say there’s 50/50 chance that long-term a round interface is the way to go — the medium is the message as they say, and a round interface wouldn’t fight the notion of wearing a device on your wrist, it would embrace it,

  • Samanjj

    Here is a link to a Cartier watch that is square. Have you actually worn an Apple Watch in store? Try one if not because once I felt the heart pulse and tapping I was sold. The butterfly watch face is gorgeous and the more you use it the more you see how square is right and round just doesn’t make sense. http://toffsworld.com/fashion/watch-makers/worlds-leading-watchmakers/attachment/cartier-santos-dumont-square-watch-2/

  • Samanjj

    Ken I guess these work for most people then? I think for early adopters? The videos on their website and the actual website are great adverts. That’s what got me into a store after the recent changes.

  • I saw the Skater ad first and it reminded me a lot of Susan Alinsangan’s iPod silhouette commercials.

    Given all of Apple’s recent hirings from the fashion industry (Apple Watch and Apple Retail), that Apple launched the Watch the way it did doesn’t surprise me at all.

    A hat tip, however, for the course correction. Utility is next, and Apple stands to gain a lot from slimming down it’s Watch story to something bite-sized.