SONY’s underwater Dubai shop: is the concept all wet?

Dubai's underwater store
The Middle East and Africa subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation officially launched an outrageous shopping experience for its Xperia products this month, with a pop-up store located just offshore from the environmentally dubious World Islands in Dubai – and 4 meters under the sea.  It’s the world’s first underwater store.

world's first underwater store

The Aquatech shop was not open to the public, and remained open for business for just three days. Customers vied for limited visitor passes via an online competition, but access was largely limited to VIPs and media.  Visitors were required to undergo mandatory scuba training in a pool before being taken to the store by a diving instructor.

world's first underwater store
Vice President of Sony Mobile Middle East and Africa, Rüediger Odenbach, said in a press release that the store – which showcases the protection that Xperia phones offer – intended to give guests “an unforgettable experience”.

“Currently, Sony Mobile offers its consumers a wide range of Xperia smartphones, tablets, and accessories with the highest waterproof rating”, said Odenbach.  Maybe so, but the divers had to pop their Xperia Z3 or Xperia Z3 Compact phones into special waterproof cases since those gadgets aren’t water resistant beyond 1.5 meters.

world's first underwater store

Once inside the shop, everyone stood on the seabed, removed their masks and breathed normally in the air-filled interior while Sony representatives demonstrated an array of Xperia products and accessories.

Combining water with winning marketing isn’t new to the Japanese electronic giant. Sony once marketed an MP3 player by packaging it in a water bottle to emphasize its water resistance, and the Xperia Z3 was initially pitched as being “unboxed” underwater (see video below).

Sony underwater unboxing snapshots:

underwater-store-sony underwater-shop-sony underwater-pop-up-shop-sony

But what are we to make of a marketing strategy that messes with the sea? Visually interesting and certainly “experiential” for a privileged few, the underwater shop stands out from traditional product launches. A tsunami of participant selfies surely amplified the advert. But messing with nature – even for a limited time – seems a slippery slope simply to sell some hardware.

Images from Android Community

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