Watch In or watch Out
The Apple Watch TV commercials smooth its way into the flow of our everyday lives. Wearables are seen as the inevitable next step of technological development both in Germany and the USA, yet consumers watch out for what kind of future this entails.

By Judith Behmer, rheingold Institute

The TV Commercials

The announcement commercial (“The Watch is Coming”) presents the Apple Watch with no words of praise and without people. With a tracking shot and accompanying drum dominated music, the viewer gets zoomed in on it. Swiftly alternating dials confront us with many possibilities.

The “Rise,” “Us,” and “Up” commercials, on the other hand, show the Apple Watch embedded in everyday situations, also without words. (See the TV-Links below)


With the spots, Apple has achieved an impressive choreography.

The sole hero and protagonist of the announcement spot “The Watch is Coming”) is the Apple Watch itself. The minimalist, perfectly staged, typical Apple product presentation is impressive and fascinating, casting a hypnotic spell on the viewer. It is like a royal entry: “The Queen is coming.”

The respondents experience the second phase of the commercial as an explosion of quickly changing applications. They imagine a rich and active life in which the Apple Watch provides the rhythm. This means a fast pace, but for younger viewers in particular also supportive structure and control. The big promise is obstacle-free gliding through everyday life. The question remains open as to whether the new pace setter will develop a strange life of its own. The older respondents have a somewhat uncomfortable feeling: will I soon become hooked on the Apple Watch to determine my life?

Moving everyday moments

This question is answered by the “Rise,” “Up,” and “Us” spots. The common denominator between the three spots is that they show touching everyday situations in which the Apple watch is casually integrated as an omnipresent companion in life. The effect is enhanced by the fact that its actual functionality is often not even recognized – life itself is the focus. The “Rise” spot shows how the Apple Watch accompanies the beginning of the day: when getting up, making toast, frying eggs. It intensifies moments, imbues them with a new magic. The “Up” spot focuses on athletic, physical aspects: health tracking while running against an imposing backdrop, walks on the beach with a dog. The spot suggests that moments like these are possible again and are even enhanced by Apple’s gift of time. The “Us” spot moves viewers the most. It is perceived to be a touching kaleidoscope of social and gentle encounters that does not omit sad moments and therefore “keeps it real”.


In a subtle way, the commercials manage to usher in a new sense of time: real life 2.0. The (maternal) trust instilled by Apple enables us to let ourselves in for the “real” world. The younger respondents, in particular, thankfully accept this message and these functions (coach, motivator, inspirer). The Apple Watch is not seen as a revolutionary product, but this time as an “educator of the heart.” Even people who are skeptical about Apple cannot help but get this message. The older respondents show restrained resistance: they think they can live without the Apple Watch – even if it’s “only” real life 1.0, yet less digitally directed.

Comparison between Germany and the USA

There are no noteworthy differences between the consumers’ perception of the spots in the two countries. The analysis shows that the spots manage to address universal human desires for support, intimacy, and motivation – the desire for basic trust knows no national boundaries and is not limited to certain nations: it is universal, global, and understood in every language and around the world. Concerns about handing over the scepter (of time) too much to wearables and thus giving it away are even less pronounced in the USA than in Germany.

© 2015 rheingold