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New Apple Watch ads creepily declare, “The future of health is in your hands


A young woman is lying in bed, staring at the camera and calmly explaining how “the Sleep app helps me set up a bedtime routine by muting my phone”. The phone sinks into the covers as if it were an ocean wave. The light of the room melts into dust. Then the entire room is folded inside out to become a dreamy heavenly void, but with more pillows. A choir of angels reaches a gentle crescendo as she falls asleep in the middle of a desert landscape made of pillows. Then the slogan: “The future of health is on the wrist.”

This is the latest ad for the Apple Watch and is accompanied by two more equally calm, confident spots that remind us of the magical powers of the product. Uh, I mean technical skills. An elderly gentleman takes his own EKG with him wherever he wants, from the fishing boat to the cinema. Maybe he’s dreaming about our future after COVID-19. Then another young woman swims in the open sea among fish and whales while still following her rounds.

We are in the middle of a health technology arms race. In 2019, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Mad Money’s Jim Cramer, “I think if you zoom into the future, look back and ask, ‘What has been Apple’s greatest contribution to humanity?’ It’s going to be about health. “Google completed the acquisition of FitBit last month. Samsung recently announced that its new Galaxy Watch 3 can now measure your blood pressure. Convincing you that its watch is better is critical for Apple is as competing wearables.

The advertisements are all beautifully photographed and composed. And maybe that’s why they totally put me off. The sleepy woman sounds like she is taking sedatives. The dream landscapes are a little too perfect. They also lack the touch of fun and humor that so often makes an Apple commercial stand out. Last September, the brand touted the same Series 6 watch with an equally stunning display, but that had a hearty dose of jokes when users kept reminding utopian narrator Helena Bonham Carter that “She already does.”

These feel more like fake ads for a fictional tech overlord we’re about to see in a dystopian movie yet to be released. For example, if you’d mixed the personalized ads in Minority Report with Blade Runner’s Off-World Colony Pitch and maybe Total Recalls Rekall with a shot of “RePet” from The 6th Day.

In any case, there is something about this calm omnipresence that carries a hint of menace about it. Of course, I’m not saying Apple is, nor was the intent here to promote a perfectly crafted tracking computer that you carry as a consumer luxury item that knows everything there is to know about you. What could be creepy or dystopian about it?

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