The latest Apple Watch ad is both shameless and another masterclass in advertising

Emergency SOS on Apple Watch stars in a new Apple advertisement that tugs the heartstrings by reinforcing how the wrist-worn device could help save lives.


  • Apple’s new heartstring-plucking ad for Apple Watch is a little brutal
  • It plays back real emergency calls placed to 911 via Apple Watch
  • The Emergency SOS feature stars in this FOMO commercial

“911, what’s your emergency?”

The ad plays back real calls to 911 made by Apple Watch owners who found themselves facing seemingly imminent death. One of the callers is drowning in their car which has flipped and is sinking. Another one is a farmer who broke his leg after a 21-foot fall. For good measure, we also have a paddleboarder who got swept out to sea by hard wind.

Apple notes in the video’s description that “these are just three of many incredible stories where people were able to get help using Apple Watch.”

Is Apple trying to sell us on fear?

The suspenseful concept of the ad and the shamelessness with which Apple is dangling the prospect of life-threatening situations as an incentive to sell its watch weren’t lost on online commentators. Read: Some sound tips for how to save battery on Apple Watch

A still image from Apple's ad for Apple Watch Series 7, dubbed "911" with the line "With the help of their watch, Jason, Jim and Amanda were rescued in minutes" displayed in white letters on a black background
Image credit: Apple / YouTube

Writing in a piece for The Verge titled “Apple’s new ad invites you to imagine dying alone without a Watch on your wrist,” Sean Hollister opines the following:

I’m torn about this marketing, because it partially rings true. You don’t have to search long to find people who believe the Apple Watch genuinely saved their life.


But that doesn’t change the fact that Apple is now selling you on fear, edging into shady insurance salesman territory to do so. It’s a good ad, but it feels a little shameless.

Calling this ad the ultimate form of FOMO advertising may be taking it one step too far.

A phone call as a life-saving feature?

With that said, it’s interesting how this ad sells you a phone call as a life-saving feature that’s exclusively provided by Apple Watch although that’s not true. In reality, Jason, Jim and Amanda have relied on Emergency SOS, a feature available on iPhone and Apple Watch that allows you to automatically call the local emergency number.

Prior Apple Watch marketing didn’t shy away from crediting the wearable device with saving lives. Those commercials, however, focused on Apple’s life-saving features that are indeed exclusive to the device, such as fall detection and health monitoring.

As clearly stated in a support document on Apple’s website, setting up Emergency SOS on a cellular Apple Watch requires either a nearby iPhone with internet access or the wearable device itself needs to be connected to a known Wi-Fi network and Wi-Fi calling must be turned on in Settings. Read: How to set up Emergency SOS on Apple Watch