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Apple Banks on Prime-Time TV Ad Blitz for Apple Watch

If the Apple Watch doesn't take off at launch, it won't be for the lack of advertising. Apple has been trying to drum up buzz for the device on television, using expensive prime-time spots to entice customers to the fledgling wearable technology market. Since showing off the smartwatch at a March 9 event, Apple has spent $38 million on its "Watch Reimagined" television campaign, according to figures from iSpot.tv, which tracks U.S. TV ads and digital responses in real time. That's a little less than the $42 million Apple spent over the past five months on TV ads for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Unlike the latest version of the iPhone, a product that already had a huge, loyal following, the watch is Apple's first foray in the emerging wearable technology market. It's also Apple's first new product under CEO Tim Cook. "The iPhone 6 was a barn-burner from the get-go. But with the Apple Watch, which is a new product category with less familiarity, it makes sense that they'd go after it with more intensity," said JMP analyst Alex Gauna.

Starting Friday, the Apple Watch will be available for preview in stores and preorder on the Internet ahead of its April 24 on-sale date. An Apple spokesman declined to comment on the company's marketing strategy. Out of 300-plus airings of the Apple Watch commercial since March, almost half have been in prime-time spots tied to shows such as AMC's "The Walking Dead," the NCAA basketball tournament and NBC's talent competition "The Voice."

Why the new Apple Watch bears watching 2:55

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— Reuters and NBC News staff