"SOS" received three separate treatments for the music video, each serving a different purpose. In addition to the official music video, another version was shot as part of a promotional campaign for lingerie brand Agent Provocateur, whilst another was shot for a Nike campaign. The official music video and Nike versions were directed by Chris Applebaum, who later directed the music video for "Umbrella" (Good Girl Gone Bad, 2007).
Official music video
The video begins with Rihanna singing the hook while wearing a low cut cut green dress and dancing in front tropical plants on a beach, whilst singing the hook. Key lighting is used to place emphasis on Rihanna, whilst the backdrop remains virtually dark and unseeable. For the first verse, Rihanna is featured dancing against a plain grey background, wearing a white top and silver glitter mini-skirt, whilst flirtatiously dancing with the male dancer. Halfway through the verse, another scene is introduced, with Rihanna wearing a pink dress in a mirrored room, showing multiple reflections of the singer from different angles. For the first chorus, Rihanna is mainly featured wearing the green dress on the beach, but a new scene of Rihanna wearing black lace is introduced toward the end of the chorus, where she, as well as four male dancers, perform a choreographed dance routine. Scenes of Rihanna in the mirrored room are intercut with the previous scene for the duration of the chorus. For the second verse, a further scene of Rihanna is depicted, this time featuring the scenes performing a dance routine with a group of female dancers, in the same setting as the one at the start of the video. For the second chorus, another scene of the singer sitting on a chair whilst listening to music is shown. For the remainder of the video, including the bridge and final chorus, all scenes featured in the video are intercut with one and other, displaying a total of five different scenes and settings.
The video begins with a long shot of a group of dancers who have just finished rehearsing a dance routine. As the dancers walk out of view, Rihanna walks onto the middle of the floor, where the singer turns, and faces the camera, and closes her eyes. Standing still, Rihanna begins to click her fingers, whereby the screen begins to cut between a scene of Rihanna, who is noticeably in a different setting, and black fades. As the song's audio begins to play, it becomes apparent that the setting has changed from a rehearsal studio into a nightclub, which Rihanna in the centre. The scene is fairly dark with different colour lights projected into different areas of the nightclub, as dancers infiltrate the dance floor surrounding Rihanna. This scene is used for the first verse-chorus-verse part of the song, but changes to a scene of Rihanna, accompanied by several dancers, situated in a gym locker room for the second chorus. For the bridge, the scene changes back to Rihanna in the nightclub, but this time in a different change of attire. This scene is used for the final chorus. The video ends with a close-up of Rihanna in the nightclub standing still as the audio finishes, where she closes her eyes, which prompts the scene to change back to Rihanna in the middle of the rehearsal studio from the beginning of the video, to which she walks out of view of the camera.