Duracell’s deaf and football ad has gone viral, but will it sell batteries?


It’s Duracell’s latest ad and it tells a great story. One of persistence, perseverance and hope. In a league where big, strong and athletic dominates, you kind of forget about a sense that is extremely important; the ability to hear. The constant barking from the quarterback, plays being called in from the sidelines, the crowd…all of it. Most of which Derrick Coleman barely notices. What makes him stand-out? Well, he’s deaf and a deaf player in the NFL is definitely different. Duracell used this to their advantage in the ad above.

However, it doesn’t really do much for Duracell. I’m guessing Derrick uses Duracell batteries to power his hearing aid? Or is Duracell content with telling a good story to get across the line, “Power Within”?

In the end, the ad does WAY more for Derrick and the Seattle Seahawks than it does Duracell. People aren’t saying, “Did you hear about the deaf NFL player who uses Duracell batteries to power his hearing aid?” Or “Did you hear about that Duracell ad? You know the one with the deaf football player?”

People are simply saying, “Did you hear about the deaf player on the Seahawks?”

People cut through the clutter and pass along the meat…the points that matter. It’s like playing the game of telephone. The story gets passed along so many times the non-essential parts get cut and the cream rises to the top. Duracell is not the cream in this story and maybe that’s what Duracell wanted, but I highly doubt that. Duracell wants to sell batteries.

Duracell found a different and great story to tell. The story has gone viral receiving millions of views on YouTube. In Jonah Berger’s Contagious: Why Things Catch On
Jonah mentions six ingredients that drive things to catch on.

  1. Social Currency 
  2. Triggers 
  3. Emotion 
  4. Public 
  5. Practical Value 
  6. Stories 

The Duracell ad has Social Currency. We want to share it to friends and family because it makes us look good. It puts us “in the know.” We know the story about the deaf football player and we’re more than willing to pass it along. However, we won’t pass along Duracell when we mention the story.

The ad has a Trigger. The next time you watch a Seahawks game or a football game for that matter, you’ll probably talk about the deaf football player. Again, no mention of Duracell.

The ad definitely has Emotion. However, those emotions are not related to Duracell. The emotions are related to Derrick and his plight.

The ad is Public. The NFL is HUGE in Canada & the US, so people will be watching and commenting about the deaf NFL player. Again, no mention of Duracell.

The ad has Practical Value or news you can use. The news is – there’s a deaf football player in the NFL.

The ad is a great Story. However, it’s not a great Duracell story. It’s a great story about Derrick and what he’s overcome and it’s about the Seattle Seahawks who were willing to take a chance on a deaf player.

So what can Duracell do:

I would push for a grass roots campaign after the NFL season is over. I would hit up the deaf community in and around Seattle using Derrick as the spokesperson. Go into hospitals, community groups, even department stores and have a giant Duracell display set-up beside Derrick, while he tells his story and signs autographs. Have Derrick give kudos to Duracell for providing him the platform to tell his story. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt if Derrick trusts Duracell to keep his hearing aid powered up while playing one of the most physical sports there is. I would tell that story too.

If Duracell wants to become a part of the story – the meat if you will – they’ll have to do more than tell Derrick’s great story. They’ll have to integrate themselves into the deaf community and integrate themselves into Derrick’s life. If they don’t – this will end up being a great ad for Derrick and the Seahawks with little to no mention of Duracell. Bye bye advertising $$$$.

– Jordan