A young woman lies in bed, staring into the camera, and calmly explains how “The Sleep app helps me establish a bedtime routine by silencing my phone.” The phone sinks into the duvet as if it were an ocean swell. The room’s light melts into dust. Then the entire room folds inside out to become a dreamy celestial void, but with more pillows. An angelic choir reaches a soft crescendo as she falls asleep amid a desert landscape of pillows. Then the tagline: “The future of health is on your wrist.”
This is the newest ad for the Apple Watch, and it’s accompanied by two more, equally calm, confident spots reminding us of the product’s magical powers. Er, I mean tech prowess. An older gentleman takes his own EKG anywhere he damn pleases, from the fishing boat to the movie theater. Maybe he’s dreaming of our post-COVID-19 future. Then there’s another young woman swimming in the open ocean amid the fish and the whales while still tracking her laps.
We are in the midst of a health-tech arms race. In 2019, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Mad Money‘s Jim Cramer, “I believe, if you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?’ It will be about health.” Google finalized its acquisition of FitBit last month. Samsung recently announced its new Galaxy Watch 3 can now measure your blood pressure. For Apple, convincing you that its watch is better than competing wearables is critical.
The ads are all beautifully shot and composed. And maybe that’s why they’re absolutely creeping me out. The sleepy woman sounds like she’s on tranquilizers. The dreamscapes are a bit too perfect. They also lack that hint of fun and humor that so often highlights an Apple spot. Last September, the brand hyped this same Series 6 watch with an equally stunning ad, but that had a hearty dose of jokes when users had to keep reminding utopian narrator Helena Bonham Carter that “It Already Does That.”
These feel more like fake ads for a fictional tech overlord we’ll see in a yet-to-be-released dystopian film. Like if you mixed the personalized ads in Minority Report with Blade Runner‘s off-world colonies pitch, and maybe Total Recall‘s Rekall, with a dash of “RePet” from The 6th Day.
Either way, there’s something about that calm omnipresence that carries with it a whiff of menace. Of course I’m not saying that’s what Apple is, nor was that its intent here in advertising a perfectly designed tracking computer you wear as a consumer luxury good that knows everything there is to know about you. What could possibly be creepy or dystopian about that?
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