Getting a brave idea across the line; CHE Proximity's hearing test in disguise

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 11 April 2017

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CHE's Hearing test in disguise was shortlisted for a Cannes Lion, check out the other shortlisted Aussie work here

Around 3.5 million Australians are hearing-impaired. Most either don’t know it or are in denial about it, which goes some way to explaining why 85% of them have done nothing to address it. To a greater or lesser extent, it adversely affects their lives. In fact, it’s estimated that almost 132,000 Australians over the age of 50 are at risk of severe to profound hearing loss which means they have reached the point where hearing loss seriously impacts their life and relationships. In time, they can become withdrawn, isolated and even suffer mental health issues.

These findings prompted Cochlear, which provides implantable hearing solutions, and CHE Proximity to create an awareness campaign that is essentially a national hearing test to get the nation talking about this important issue and encourage people to get their hearing checked.

Without a huge media budget, CHE Proximity searched for an idea that could demonstrate the hearing problem people may have, and help them realise that they need to seek treatment.

That’s was the idea behind “The Hearing Test in Disguise” – a short film with two different outcomes, depending on your hearing ability.

The love story follows a couple’s relationship from courtship to marriage and through to middle age. However, as the years slip by, the film diverges. For those who hear well, the relationship remains resilient and fun. However, for the hard of hearing, a very different story unfolds. Seemingly tense body language juxtaposes the affection in deliberately masked dialogue, ambient sounds diminish even more of the loving interchanges, and opportunities to lip read are taken away. The final question posed by the film is: “Did Love Last or Was Love Lost?”

The campaign involved many months of learning and close collaboration between agency creatives, Revolve & Will O’Rourke, audiologists, sound engineers and technicians. It rolled out in cinemas, targeting the Oscar nominated, Lion, where the audience was considered to be slightly older and potentially more likely to be suffering from undiagnosed hearing loss.

What the client says:

Cochlear GM AUNZ, Shaun Hand

“People living with hearing-loss can gradually lose friendships, their career, self-esteem and their connections with loved ones.

By creating something unique like the hearing test in disguise, we’re hoping to get Australians talking about hearing loss, sharing the film with people they love, and ultimately seeking help.

Especially those who may be in denial about their hearing loss. We really hope that this is going to connect with them in quite a powerful way and get them to take action – getting the help that they need so they can reconnect with their life, the things they love to do and the people they love.”

What the agency says:

CHE Proximity group creative director, Brian Jefferson

“We were all working toward something strangely opposite to what we’d normally aim for. Usually, we’d be looking for ways to improve a sound track or make a film sound clearer, but rather than a solution this was an exercise in understanding and then compounding a problem.

We had to heavily lean on the client, the sound engineers and audiologist because it was such a technical process and we know it worked, because we’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the community.

But what was really inspiring were the messages of gratitude from people that saw the film and have since taken action to improve their hearing.”

The Work

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