Xperia M4 Aqua: A 'germ' of an idea

By Sohini Sen , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | July 06, 2015
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Sony has launched a digital campaign to apprise users about 'germs' on their mobile phones and to introduce its latest washable phone called Xperia M4 Aqua.

While toilet seats, kitchen sinks and garbage bins will definitely figure among the top dirtiest places around us, what comes as a surprise is that we carry filth in our pockets every day. This worrisome and disgusting revelation is what Sony's new product from the Xperia range is built on.

Research shows that our mobile phones are filthy and house a lot of germs. To address the problem, Sony, the mobile phone and electronic appliances brand, has launched a washable phone in its Xperia range called the M4 Aqua. A microsite called has been launched where the brand discusses and explains exactly how dirt and germs can come onto a touch phone.

The Xperia M4 Aqua

The microsite

Ryusuke Fukushima

"With the launch of M4 Aqua, we wanted to create an awareness campaign around 'washable phones' and were keen to create a digital engagement programme around hygiene factors attached to the phones. Our brief to ITSA, our agency, was to create a digital engagement campaign for Sony M4 Aqua. Leveraging the extraordinary and unique waterproof feature of Sony M4 Aqua, the digital agency recommended an awareness campaign on bringing to fore the real vector and germ infection threat that phones represent these days," explains Ryusuke Fukushima, head, marketing communications, Sony India.

The site shares startling research findings. One of which is that an average phone is dirtier than (hold your breath) public toilets, doorknobs, the soles of shoes, a bundle of notes and a pet's eating bowl. Moreover, phones are known to carry 82 per cent of the most common bacteria which have also been identified on people's fingers. These include Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and Corynebacterium. The site features a Germ-O-Meter which allows users to calculate the number of germs that are breeding on their phones. It demonstrates the "real truth" that there are about 25,000 germs in every square inch of a mobile phone.

The site's Germ-o-Meter test

Fukushima adds, "Under the Dirtyphones campaign, we have taken a missionary and cause-based approach to educate smartphone users that the phones they are using on a daily basis are dirty and, while we end up cleaning things of utility around us, we tend to ignore our smartphone."

The microsite further lists opinions shared by doctors on the same topic, as also different methods of cleaning a dirty phone. These include alcohol wipes, tissues and UV light cleaners. While the first two may damage the screen's surface, the third alternative is quite expensive and not easily available either. So, the easiest and most pocket-friendly solution is to wash the phone in clean water. And if your phone isn't water-proof, it would unwise to do so.

Toilet Seat Phone

The brand and the agency collected information from reports and independent research studies available in the public domain and came up with the campaign idea. The phone - M4Aqua - is not the only water-proof phone from Xperia. The brand also has Xperia TM Z3, Xperia TM Z3 Compact, Xperia TM Z2, Xperia TM Z1, Xperia TM Z1 Compact and Xperia TM Z Ultra in the washable series. However, the M4Aqua is positioned as a mid-segment phone which makes it affordable for the largest consumer segment of the smartphone market - the youth.

Sandal Phone

"We think it's a lot more relevant to youngsters who are moving around and using a lot of public transport, spending time together, passing each other's phones around and sharing content regularly. However, it can also include people across age-groups depending on the usage," Fukushima states.

Does the digital campaign deliver?

Neville Bharucha

Shekhar Suri

FoxyMoron's creative head, Neville Bharucha, doesn't think so, although he appreciates the website design.

"We are a generation that is obsessed with mobile technology and the premise of 'germs on your phone' isn't quite convincing. If my phone is dirty, I'll wipe it, but wouldn't want to wash it! The campaign does enlighten me to the fact that my phone has germs but the thought doesn't hit me like I was expecting it to," Bharucha says.

On the other hand, Shekhar Suri, head, DigitasLbi, Delhi has higher hopes from the initiative.

Suri says, "The microsite is designed with very potent insight and a great initiative to spread the awareness. Health hazards of radio waves by the phones have been in discussion for some time now but now being cautious of keeping the phone clean will be another add on for better health. It will be interesting to see how the audience will be engaged further, other than sharing the germ content in the phone."

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