Compared to Apple and Samsung, Sony is a small player in the Middle East mobile market. Their products are great, but people weren’t paying attention. When they released Xperia Z3, the world’s first fully waterproof range of smartphones and tablets, we saw an opportunity to change that. We launched Xperia Z3 in THE WORLD’S FIRST UNDERWATER STORE, demonstrating its market-leading waterproof feature in a uniquely impactful and memorable environment. From the marine-life-inspired visual design to the large, breathable interior, the store was a six-month process of innovating, testing, and problem solving. At launch, the underwater store became the centrepiece for a fully integrated campaign, from press teasers and social countdown to a Facebook competition, media event, and Internet film, creating a huge wave of PR that finally brought Sony the recognition it deserved – boosting their brand sentiment score to 91% across the region, and increasing sales by 115%.
We needed to create a launch campaign that wouldn’t just demonstrate the Xperia Z3 range’s great features, but that would create a strong emotional response in people, that would turn Sony into a desirable brand and turn potential customers into Sony fans.
In a region where brands don’t take such big risks, ours paid off: within 4 weeks brand preference was up 4 points, and our brand sentiment score jumped to 91% positive (compared to a Sony global average of 40%). As our story spread from Dubai to more than 80 countries worldwide, we were talked about in news articles around the world including Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Wired, GQ, Gizmodo, CNN, and T3, as well as industry sites including Ad Age. We also received international TV coverage, including a Discovery Channel documentary. Our Internet film earned over 5.25 million views, and Sony’s Twitter followers increased by 21%. In total, the campaign generated an earned media value of over $4.5 million. And best of all, Xperia sales increased 115%, with retailers across Dubai selling out of Xperia products for over a week.
In the run-up to the store opening we released a series of teaser images hinting at what was waiting beneath the waves, creating a frenzy of media and public demanding to know more. We also set people across the Middle East a challenge through Facebook: come visit the store and drown your smartphone for an Xperia Z3. Over 2,000 took part for the chance to travel to Dubai for the opening. Besides the members of the public who visited the store, we invited media and key influencers for a special event, complete with afterparty on the beach. We also used the opportunity to shoot an online film, which spread across our social channels and out into the wider world. And we sent the full story to various tech sites, ad industry blogs, and major press for coverage – turning the pop-up store into a huge PR success.
Apple and Samsung dominate the mobile market in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Sony has been quietly improving its products to the point they now outperform the leaders in many ways. But to win “share of pocket” vs. iPhone and Galaxy, Sony first needed to win “share of desire” by repositioning itself as a brand that people really wanted to spend time with. Into this situation, Sony was about to launch Xperia Z3, the first ever fully waterproof range of smartphones and tablets.
Since the Xperia Z3’s waterproof feature was a global first for a mobile range, we used it to create both awareness for the Z3 itself and publicity for Sony as a brand. The world’s first underwater store was the perfect way to demonstrate this pioneering feature in an impactful and newsworthy way. We designed the store both visually and functionally to create a unique and memorable experience for everyone who went inside, as well as those who saw it through press/TV or our Internet film. This meant that with a single activation we could make Xperia Z3 famous around the world, and start getting Sony talked about as a brand that innovates.