SOS – A Misguided Apple Watch Ad

July 18, 2015

Apple released a bunch of new ads for the Apple Watch recently. One of those, titled “Beijing”, particularly stood out to me, and not in a positive way. The clip below starts right at the segment I’m referring to.

I imagine that those ads go through lots of iterations and many different options are considered, before they finally get signed off by people pretty high up in the management. To me it speaks volumes about the times we live in that this segment made it into the final clip and apparently was considered to be an appealing story to tell.

(If you haven’t watched it yet, watch it now so that you know what I’m talking about. It’s just 7 seconds.)

May I make a radical suggestion: if you have the time and leisure to doodle the letters “SOS” on a tiny display after fiddling around with the crown to select the right person from the contacts list, how about simply saying that you’re not interested and walking away? You know, like a mature adult.

The people who decided to use this scene clearly thought that it would help in painting a picture of a young, exciting, and fun lifestyle – one they’d like to associate with Apple Watch. To me it symbolizes insecurity and immaturity, packaged as a virtue and shipped to millions of people with the stamp of approval of the Apple logo.

I get that it can be difficult to be honest and assertive, but that’s exactly why positive examples in this regard are even more important, rather than the disempowering role model on display in this ad.

Update: I received several comments along the lines of “but this won’t work with some people”, or “some people might have a negative or even hostile reaction to this”. I don’t disagree with that. The point is not that being assertive gets you what you want 100% of the time, the point is that you’ve expressed your needs authentically, which will ultimately attract people with compatible values.

It’s about the values you aspire to – how authentic and assertive do you want to be? Sure, you might encounter negative or hostile reactions from time to time. Clearly though, those are not opinions you value. If they make you change your behavior anyhow, that’s what I mean by insecurity or immaturity: either you’re very uncertain about your values, or you haven’t developed a stable set of values independent of others to begin with. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it applies to me in certain areas as well. Recognizing this gives you something to work on.

I think it’s really important to be honest with yourself, and not jumping to external justifications is a step in this direction. I’m not saying that there never are external reasons, but fundamentally I believe it comes down to this: it’s just really, really difficult for many of us to assert our needs without being aggressive.

How many people can you think of who were positive role models in this regard when you were growing up? That’s why it frustrates me to see an ad like this, embracing the exact opposite.