Kbs Candyspace Saatchi & Saatchi

Apple Watch launch: reaction from agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, Havas, Candyspace, and KBS


By Minda Smiley, Reporter

March 10, 2015 | 12 min read

Apple has finally unveiled the details regarding its smart watch that will go on sale in late April, with prices ranging from $349 to $17,000 depending upon the model.

The watches will incorporate Apple Pay, making mobile payments easier for consumers. Location data, hyperlocal messaging, and customizable watch faces are just a few of the ways that marketers can utilize smartwatches.

Brands including Starwood Hotels, Facebook, and Instagram all plan to launch apps for smartwatches. The Drum spoke with digital experts in the US to find out what possibilities the watch opens up for advertisers.

While some believe that this could be the “year of the smart watch,” others are a bit more hesitant that the masses will adopt the technology quickly, saying that worthwhile apps and features that show the watch’s potential could be what are needed to make the watch go mainstream.

Kayla Green, digital strategy director, Saatchi & Saatchi LA

It will be interesting to see how brands think about extending their identity into the Apple Watch screen and more interesting to see how consumers adopt these new features. Today, we can use our phones or computers to check the time so watches have actually become statement pieces that say something about who we are as people. These new customizable watch faces represents an interesting opportunity for us to share a little bit more about who we are and what we like: i.e. if you can customize the watch face that is a) a great way for customers to personalize their watch and b) an opportunity for brands to extend their identity into the smart watch. For example, if I’m a huge surfer, I may want to set the watch face to the activity tracker and surf report, all powered by one of my favorite surf brands, letting others know it’s a personal passion.

Wearable technology is only as good as it’s original purpose – so if a smart watch doesn’t tell the time elegantly as it’s primary purpose, then no one is going to care that it also connects to their other ‘smart' devices, tracks their health or accesses popular social media apps because they are not native functions of a wristwatch.

The success of smart watches hinges on consumer adoption of the technology for the absolute simplicity of being a watch first. That the watch also happens to be smart and connected to the ecosystem of other connected devices comes second. Keeping true to what a watch is meant to be will be critical to the success of mass adoption of these new devices.

Matt Powell, co-president, KBS

I’m most excited about the possibilities in the stuff-we-haven’t-thought-of-yet space. The best examples of this so far, for me, are Sketch, Tap and Heartbeat, which let people communicate with one another over distances in a totally new way. These are the kinds of new use cases and behaviors that will keep me up at night thinking about what new experiences we can invent for our clients.

Since Apple launched Apple Pay with the iPhone 6, it's fundamentally changed the way consumers are approaching payments. The convenience of not having to reach into your pocket to make a payment is going to push the mobile payment trend forward even more quickly.

Samsung has also been doing great work with their latest generation watches. With Apple and Samsung pushing hard on the category and with both showing all sorts of new use cases and possibilities, I think this will, finally, be the year of the Smart Watch.

Paolo Pazzia, planning director, iris

While other smart watches are trying [and many have seemingly failed] to go the way of biometrics and health – Apple will be busy making strides in the world of utility through NFC, most notably through things like ApplePay. We should soon expect industries like public transportation, identification protection, and other NFC-enabled services to look to build into the long-awaited world of near field communication. By betting on NFC, Apple’s first watch will have a firm foothold in the day-to-day lives of consumers by way of the devices it can connect to, rather than the creation of new behaviors. But much like other Apple releases, it will become a waiting game for consumers [and marketers] eager to connect these new watches to their worlds of products. So call your engineers and get those SDK’s running – the world’s about to leap forward into NFC.

Paul Aaron, founder of creative technology consultancy Modern Assembly

For marketers already active in the mobile app space, the Apple watch provides an opportunity to deepen their engagement with tech-savvy consumers and generate buzz by claiming first-mover status. But because the watch is designed to work as an extension of the apps you're already using, a lot of the initial success will be limited to marketers who already have successful apps; i.e., Nike. It will be interesting to see how emerging start-ups leverage the technology in new and unexpected ways. The watch will also contribute to mobile payments, particularly by providing a solution for in situations where it's tedious to pull out your phone. Overall, looking at what Apple did for the smartphone early on, you're tempted to expect the watch to have a big impact. It certainly validates the category. But using a smart-watch is a new behavior, so I'd be cautious about expecting the masses to adopt it overnight.

Tessa Tinney, partner, Monaco Lange, global branding consultancy

The watch will merge technology to our physical experiences more than any other device has so far. While smart phones are omnipresent in our lives, we put them down, or in a pocket, or a bag. They sit on our desks and on conference room tables, but they’re detached. One of the biggest opportunities for marketers will be in the data that can be captured and interpreted about our everyday behaviors. Smart companies will develop apps that collect vast amounts of this data to understand behaviors and patterns and then develop branded apps with true benefit to people's everyday lives.

Paying with a smartwatch that's latched to a wrist is a lot more convenient than paying with a phone or wallet that's sunk to the bottom of a handbag.

Apple loyalists will be the early adopters, but mainstreamers with iPhones won't be far behind, once there are some worthwhile apps that show the watch's potential.

Andrew Hoffman, VP mobile marketing of Mobext, Havas Media's mobile network

The introduction of a smaller connected device screen will continue to drive the conversation away from traditional mobile/digital ad banners and facilitate the need to focus on content. Location data and messaging will be a big driver of smartwatch connectivity. Hyperlocal messaging, such as “buy now discounts” and relevant/timely health and fitness messaging and engagements, will align easily with the constant on-the-go usage nature of the device.

Apple Pay has seen a tremendous growth in adoption since its launch this past fall. The infrastructure for mobile payments is already being laid and there are over 2,500 banks and 700,000 stores accepting Apple Pay mobile payments. Because of this success, the smartwatch should be primed to increase opportunities for mobile payments usage. Consumers no longer need to even reach into their pockets (for their wallets or phones) to make a payment. This change in consumer behavior removes a friction point and could affect the way consumers ultimately choose to purchase products and services in the future.

Apple has proven to be a market maker with their previous devices, and this product is no different. However, the technology is still nascent. The battery life of this smartwatch proves that there are still real limitations in our ability to create a true replacement for a traditional watch, and the ability to glean true user behavior and adoption of usage 24/7 is just not there yet.

Greg Crockart, CEO North America, Candyspace

Apple Watch will genuinely make mobile payments more seamless and convenient, but adoption issues remain. Currently, pulling out your phone to pay is in reality not that much more convenient than pulling out your wallet and swiping a card. With an Apple Watch on your wrist, suddenly tapping your watch to a terminal is in fact quite significantly more convenient. The problem: only 2 per cent of US retailers support NFC payments, and some of those are exclusive with CurrentC. But if anyone can persuade retailers to upgrade their point of sales infrastructure, Apple can!

The travel experience just got fully-digital. But anyone who has tried to slot a phone under a boarding pass reader will understand just how clunky an experience this can be. Try getting your wrist at the right angle! Having a hotel key always attached to your wrist however is certainly appealing, mitigating that midnight ‘where did I leave my room key’ realization!

This is an intimate device. Brands will need to be very careful about the use of notifications. It’s clear that display advertising will not make any sense on this screen, so genuinely useful notifications will likely be the key vehicle for brands to connect with consumers on this device. Brands who want to succeed on the Apple Watch will need to have something valuable to communicate to a wearer.

Jordan Gray, manager of creative labs, Organic

The two most obvious ways for marketers to help brands shine on watches are notifications and apps. Notifications are an old touch point already accessible on mobile platforms, but are now being invited out of the pocket and onto the wrist.

The old rules still apply: use notifications sparingly and in a meaningful way, or your audience will opt out. The new twist is that notifications need to be “glanceable,” to the wrist rather than with a phone in hand. Building an application for Android Wear, Apple Watchkit or Pebble Time will allow for the richest user interactions (actionable notifications, custom interfaces, leveraging hardware) but will also be the more expensive route. Marketing teams need to be sure they’re pushing wearable apps as an effective solution to their clients’ concerns rather than deciding to build an app before knowing what problems it will solve.

ApplePay has already greatly popularized mobile payments in a way that previous NFC technologies like Softcard and Isis couldn’t. However, the typical in-store customer journey sees users waiting at the register with their phone out, which is then tapped at the point of sale. Wearables may shift the entertainment-while-waiting and payment to the wrist, but I don’t see that shift opening up a new demographic to mobile payment that was previously adverse to it.

Judging by Apple’s smartphone market share, their watch will undoubtedly boost the overall smart watch market. However, they’re late to an already popular party started by Pebble, who received over 67 thousand preorders for their second generation Time device. But even that number is a drop in the bucket compared to the 10-30 million smart watches Apple expects to ship in 2015. Compared to Google Glass which sold less than 50 thousand units, the general public is far more excited to strap screens on their wrists than on their faces.

Gene Lewis, partner/chief creative officer, Digital Pulp

For marketers, the Apple Watch is all about getting as close to your customers as possible -making them view your products and services as so necessary and personal, that you’re willing to wear them on your wrist. The tiny screen and glance-driven experience will be an interesting challenge for brands. Speculating over the biggest opportunity is difficult, and likely wrong, at this point.

It will, however, help boost mobile payments. I use ApplePay a lot, but as silly as it sounds, getting my phone out to pay is kind of clunky. A small wrist tilt (cuffs down) is slick and feels like the way paying should be in our modern world. If more brands adopt ApplePay (and contactless payment in general), this will become second nature to everyone.

If the Apple Watch becomes a truly indispensable personal device (as Apple hopes), then overall smartwatch take-up will absolutely go up. If it’s a lukewarm, niche, elite accessory, then the purpose of and need for the wearable category will continue to languish in uncertainty and doubt until some breakthrough makes it core to our lives (or not).

Kbs Candyspace Saatchi & Saatchi

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