The Unintentional Hilarity of Apple's Watch Hyperbole

Let's Get to the Real Marketing Effort

By Published on .

I'm a fan of Apple products.

I've never stood in line for Apple products, because lines are for barbecue, not for gadgets.

But I have owned various iPods. My primary computer is a five-year old Mac laptop that still works so well, it makes me want to kick my (theoretically) current work PC in its (figurative) teeth every morning. I had the iPhone 5 and now have the iPhone 6.

That said, watching an Apple promotional video is enough to make me want to take a hammer to my Apple products and beat on them until I no longer feel shame.

Until now, I haven't paid attention to any of Apple's big launches. I've got better things to do with my time. And I don't care how good Apple products are, a launch event is basically a series of highly paid people -- execs, engineers, celebrities -- standing on a stage and selling you something. I'm hoping for humanity's sake that the only people who watch these things are tech journalists and bloggers.

So I skipped the Apple Watch live stream. Again, better things to do. But after all of the hype, I had to go back to last fall to spend 10 minutes listening to Jony Ive, Apple's design VP, narrate a video first detailing all the wonders of the watch. I'm tempted to ask for hazard pay for watching the whole thing, but honestly, I had entirely too much fun getting outraged over the butchery of language, the abuse of vaguely scientific-sounding words and slinging of old-fashioned marketing hokum.

Some highlights:

  • "Navigation is fluid and vital." Vital! I do not think that word means what you think it means.
  • "And with digital touch, we've developed an entirely new way to connect intimately with others." Oh have you now? Does the state of Alabama know about this?
  • "We have designed six different straps." Six! Why you can't even count that on one hand!
  • "The sport band … is made from a tough, durable … high-performance elastomer." (Hmmm. An elastomer? Let me check. Yup. That's a fancy word for rubber.)
  • "We've used traditional leather but in a new sports context."
  • "The supple, hand-crafted leather modern buckle … wraps symmetrically around the wrist." Unlike all my other watch bands that are completely asymmetrical.
  • "Aluminium." Listen, guy. In the states we call it aluminum. Nice try though.

There was more. But you get the point.

None of this is to say that the Apple Watch isn't a technological marvel or that it doesn't look, you know, kinda cool. And I'm going to bet that Apple's marketing effort is going to do a killer job of making the watch look like a tech marvel that's really cool.

But this presentation and this video aren't part of a consumer marketing effort (I hope). It strikes me more as just an effort to give tech journalists and hardcore Apple fans (and haters) something to chew on and squabble over while the real marketing effort gets under way.

You know, the real marketing effort, the typically expensive and massive campaign from Apple that uses the latest in cutting-edge media technology: print, outdoor and TV.

Ken Wheaton, the managing editor of Advertising Age, writes our Last Word column. His latest novel, "Sweet as Cane, Salty as Tears," was published in 2014.

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