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."


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

@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.