Think your earbuds are waterproof? Sony took that claim to the extreme by selling their Walkman in water bottles.
Sony’s W270 Series Walkman have recently gone viral, and it’s all thanks to a unique 2014 marketing campaign that packaged the headphones inside custom water-filled bottles.
In a March 2023 tweet, the account Fascinating posted about Sony’s attempt to boost sales for their W Series Walkman using the unusual strategy. Two days later, it amassed over 400k likes and 42 million views.
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The Bottled Walkman
In 2009, Sony launched their W (Wearable) series, which were audio players built into headphones. Years later, in 2013, they introduced the W270 Series. The main selling point of the series was an IPX8-rated waterproof build geared towards swimmers and athletes.
The W270 Series had a robust rubber gasket that sealed all its openings, making it impervious to water. This allowed it to function underwater for up to 30 minutes.
Unfortunately, sales were initially unimpressive, particularly in New Zealand. So, in an effort to turn things around and further prove the W Series Walkman’s reliability, Sony developed a remarkable marketing strategy.
In collaboration with the advertising agency: FCB, Sony packaged the Walkman inside a water bottle to prove its durability. The bottled Walkmans were then sold for NZ$99.95 inside vending machines in gyms and pool centers all over Auckland. This increased exposure and allowed people to easily access them for swimming or exercise.
As such, this one-of-a-kind approach created a huge buzz around the product. The campaign reached an audience of roughly 520 million thanks to social media. It also exceeded the initial sales increase the target of 20% by 380%. And by December 2014, the product had officially sold out in New Zealand.
Sony’s Other Innovative Marketing Campaigns
The Bottled Walkman isn’t Sony’s only attempt at out-of-the-box marketing. In 2014, the company also launched an underwater pop-up store to showcase the new Xperia Z3 and its IP68 design.
The concept store, dubbed the Xperia Aquatech, consisted of a dome-shaped structure located four meters under the sea in Dubai. And being an invite-only event, the attendees were limited to VIPs, influencers, media personnel, and contest winners.
Guests were provided custom Sony diving suits, as well as diving equipment. Pool training (mandatory before entering the store) also took place at a beachside resort on the World Islands.
After training, guests were then escorted into the store by trained divers. Once inside, they could stand on the seafloor, remove their diving gear, and enjoy live demos of Sony Xperia devices.
According to Spyros Gousetis, director of Marketing at Sony Mobile Middle East and Africa, the Xperia Aquatech Store was designed to “put Sony’s pioneering waterproof technology on its smart devices at the forefront” and “deliver an unforgettable experience to guests and fans in a visually, and emotionally powerful way.”