Case study: Action on Hearing Loss

The charity for the deaf and hard of hearing used shocking images to highlight the dangers of listening to loud music

Action on Hearing Loss campaign
Action on Hearing Loss campaign

Fancy having a power drill attack your ear? Perhaps you'd like a large nail hammered into it? These are the startling images that Action on Hearing Loss has used to publicise the dangers of listening to loud music for too long.

The stark black and white pictures were used for the charity's Loud Music campaign, which ran from 30 April to 13 May in the London Borough of Camden. They were seen on billboards, telephone boxes and cinema adverts. The campaign coincided with the Camden Crawl festival, for which Action on Hearing Loss had official charity status. Posters, earplugs and beer-mats promoting the message of listening to music at a safe volume were distributed at 30 venues in Camden.

Nationally, the campaign was rolled out virally using a video advert of the drill metaphor and social media marketing, while in the niche and mainstream press, including the NME and The Daily Telegraph, the musicians Chris Martin, Plan B and Gary Numan supported the campaign by admitting for the first time to having hearing problems.

Emma Harrison, the charity's director of public engagement, said it had been planning the £61,000 campaign for six months with the design company Hat-Trick, which helped with the charity's recent rebrand from RNID. It was aimed at anyone going to clubs and enjoying music, not just young people - hence the range of celebrity supporters.

"We have run a variety of different campaigns over the past eight years around noise being linked to hearing loss and tinnitus, but we felt we were not getting the message through to people," said Harrison.

"The images that we have used make people wince. People are shocked by them and find them quite upsetting, but they can't fault the point we are making. We want to change people's perceptions of hearing so that they value it. The initial reaction to the campaign has been very positive because it has certainly got people talking."

Analysis by the charity found that the reach of the campaign was about 2.7 million people. In the seven days after it launched it had 10,015 page views of Loud Music content from 7,707 unique users and 2,410 views of the video on YouTube.

EXPERT VIEW - Emmie Spencer, head of creative strategy, Neo

Making the unseen danger seen is a visual trick used in many a health campaign, from the 'fire in the brain' of the NHS's Emmie Spencerstroke awareness campaign to the Department of Health's fish-hook anti-smoking campaign. It's something used to equally squirm-inducing effect in this latest campaign from Action On Hearing Loss.

Like the charity's new name, this campaign benefits from an admirably straight-talking take on the damage loud music can do. The black and white photography of pretty young things feels right for the target audience of clubbers and gig-goers.

For me, though, the most compelling part of this campaign is the real stories of cool young DJs and musicians who have irreparably damaged their hearing from exposure to loud music. If Plan B can make wearing earplugs cool, then maybe the kids and their ears will be all right.

SCORE:

Creativity 4
Delivery 4

8 OUT OF 10

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