Those of us with hearing aids know that they aren’t the most attractive things in the world, but they do the job. We care less about making a fashion statement as we get older, yet it seems this fact was missed by Victorian Hearing.
The company rolled out an ad campaign recently that has been slammed as “out of touch” with the deaf community, and labelled hateful and discriminatory. See the offending ad for yourself:
Now it has been revealed that the Ad Standards Board have deemed the ad discriminatory and have banned it.
Mumbrella reports that Victorian Hearing apologised for the campaign at the end of last month after people commented the company’s Facebook page. One person summed up the reactions of many, saying “I don’t really love my hearing aids, but I accept that with the severity of my hearing loss, I’m stuck with them. To see them referred to as ugly though — that’s just really unhelpful”.
The ad has now been removed but that hasn’t stopped a backlash. Other complaints say, “The visual image of a prawn plays into stigmatisation of a group that may have no option to but to wear hearing aids. It is not ok to mock someone’s disability or encourage the general community to perpetuate the myth that hearing aids somehow make you ugly”.
Some others suggested that Victorian Hearing was pitching their ad to the more elderly in their audience, forgetting that thousands of Australian child also suffer from hearing problems, and saying their hearing aid is ugly could really upset them.
Victorian Hearing has again defended the campaign, arguing that the ad had been in circulation for two years and they hadn’t received negative feedback previously.
“The aim of the advertisement was to inform and educate adults in the process of considering hearing aid options, or looking at replacing their outdated devices, with an invisible hearing solution option,” the hearing company said.
“Based on our market research, 1 in 6 Australians suffer hearing loss and delay the fitting of hearing aids for many reasons, one of the most common reasons being vanity. The advertisement is aimed to appeal to those people who need the assistance of a hearing aid, but are avoiding clinical assistance.
“We want this advertisement to result in more people seeking professional assistance for hearing loss. Advertisement is not advertising to Children: The advertisements are not, and could not be said to be, directed primarily to children”. Do you agree?
“The primary purpose of the advertisement was to encourage a section of the public with hearing loss to seek clinical advice and services. The overall benefit to the community was to increase awareness of new products that improve the wellbeing and general life experience of those with hearing loss, notwithstanding that the advertisement may have struck a sensitivity some people. For this reason we removed all instances of the advertisement from publication”, Victorian Hearing concluded.
The Ad Standards Board rules that saying a superseded product or indeed any product was ‘ugly’, particularly one aimed at people with disabilities, is likely to cause offence and distress.
In continuing, the board noted that Victorian Hearing shouldn’t promote products in this way if their message was to compare products. Instead, their ad “vilified” a section of the community.
So we want to know, are you offended by this ad? Why or why not?