A Man Comes Back to Life, Almost Literally, in Duracell’s Beautiful Ad About Hearing Loss

John Slattery voices spot about bridging the emotional gap

Mad Men ended a year ago, but John Slattery, aka Roger Sterling from the AMC agency drama, is keeping a hand in the ad game, providing a voiceover for this Duracell spot tied to National Hearing Month.

Slattery delivers his lines near the end of the two-minute-plus commercial, created by Anomaly to tout Duracell's hearing-aid batteries.

In the ad, we meet a middle-aged guy named Jim whose world has become … muffled. While far from deaf, he has difficulty hearing what people say to him in everyday situations. For example, in one scene, while babysitting for the family, he fails to hear crying down the hall.

"The biggest issue with hearing loss is that it separates people from people, and few realize how much that really affects every aspect of all our lives," Duracell brand manager Ramon Velutini tells AdFreak. "Human interaction is one of the most valuable resources we take for granted, and it's inherently a two-way street. So this issue doesn't just affect those individuals suffering from hearing loss, it has the compounding effect of adversely impacting the lives of everyone they love."

That feeling of emotional distance, of a connection failure that transcends hearing loss, is expertly conveyed in moody opening sequences by Park Pictures director Vincent Haycock and director of photography Robert Elswit. (The latter won an Oscar as the DP on There Will Be Blood.)

Later, when our hero gets fitted for a discreet hearing aid, the scenes brighten and he begins to make up for lost time, rejoining the ebb and flow of life, more in tune with everyone around him.

"We have a dual target with this program," says Velunti. Naturally, the primary audience is the millions of Americans with untreated hearing loss who wait seven years, on average, before seeking help, and their loved ones. A second target, Velunti says, consists of "those who already use a hearing aid, encouraging them to trust Duracell's long-lasting hearing aid batteries when it matters." (Duracell donated 10,000 batteries to the Center for Hearing and Communication, and is sponsoring 50,000 free auditory perception tests nationwide.)

Slattery's brief closing narration, "Duracell batteries are long lasting, so you don't miss the moments that matter," superbly soft-sells the brand connection. 

"He has personally experienced the issue within his own family," Velunti says of Slattery. "His father suffered from untreated hearing loss before receiving hearing aids. Since his father started wearing a hearing aid five years ago, he's been so much more engaged with life."

For the film, Anomaly tried "to change the way we approached communicating the issue" in order to "really inspire change in behavior," says agency group creative director Seth Jacobs. To that end, the storyline puts hearing in a broader context, generating considerable empathy and emotion through a rich cinematic style, while never seeming melodramatic or forced.

"We wanted to make something beautiful, but the kind of emotional beauty that only comes from the perfect blend of pretty and real," Jacobs says. "It's celebrating what we hold most dear in life, while delicately highlighting the cost of losing it, right in front of your eyes."

CREDITS

Client: Duracell

Title: "Stay Connected"
Agency: Anomaly
Chief Creative Officer: Mike Byrne
Group Creative Director: Seth Jacobs
Copywriter: Cooper Smith
Art Director: Liz Delp
Head of Production: Andrew Loevenguth
Senior Producer: Jeff Goodnow
Music Producer: Jonathan Wellbelove
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Strategy: Gareth Goodall
Comms Planning: Darus Zahm
Business Director: Damien Reid
Account Director: Matt Nigro
Account Supervisor: Libby Wicks
Account Executive: Sam Gray
Project Manager: Megan Enneking
Business Affairs: Breck Henson

Production Company: Park Pictures
Director: Vincent Haycock
Executive Producers: Jackie Bisbee, Dinah Rodriguez
Producer: Alec Sash
Director of Photography: Robert Elswit
First Assistant Director: Rob Jackson
Production Designer: Walter Pluff
Wardrobe Stylist: Lucy Corrigan
Casting: David Morris and Faye Grande for Grande Morris Casting

Editing: Consulate
Editor: Ryan McCally
Executive Producer: Alan Lopez
Flame Artist: Mike Stolz
Assistant Editor: Hazel McKibbin

Telecine: Consulate
Colorist: Gabriele Turchi

Sound Mix: Sound Lounge
Audio Engineer: Seth Phillips
Sound Design: Marshall Grupp, Seth Phillips
Producer: Ali Corsi

Music: Marmoset
Composer: Matthew Hollingsworth
Producer: Tim Shrout