Sunday, January 19, 2014

Truth in Advertising II: 49ers Colin Kaepernick & Seahawks' Derrick Coleman

It's sad that it took a commercial for Duracell batteries for me to learn the story of Derrick Coleman the only legally deaf offensive player in the NFL, but I have a sense he wouldn't want it any other way. The San Ramon Valley Times reports "he's proud of the ad's soaring popularity." The fullback and core special teamer says "It's creating an awareness not just for the hearing-impaired and deaf community but for everyday.  Everybody has a problem, but we can still do what we want to."
Bob Condotta of the The Seattle Times writes, 
At the age of three Coleman's hearing mysteriously began to disappear. 
“It just kind of went away,’’ Coleman said. “We don’t really know why.” 
But hearing aids and an uncanny ability to read lips — he’s trained himself to look there first — have allowed Coleman to adapt to the point that many who know him forget he’s deaf, and many who meet him don’t realize it unless they are told. 
It's amazing to me that "his official UCLA bio made no mention of his hearing issues other than the simple notation near the bottom that he 'can read lips'.’’ Barring that reality it's fitting that the focus of the commercial isn't on what he cannot do but rather, what he overcame.
One of his coaches said "Sometimes I forget about his hearing loss."
Like Colin Kaepernick, Coleman has continually had to prove himself, but he's done so quietly and consistently by performing and defying expectations. “I don’t ever use it as an excuse,’’ he said. He played both basketball and football in high school. According to Condotta, "Coleman makes sure to ask quarterbacks or teammates a second time to make sure he understands the play if it’s unclear. And he simply has to keep his eye on the center snap to know when the play begins."

He's also like Kaep in that he does as the Beats Dre X ad suggests "Hear What you Want."
Coleman even says he thinks it gives him an edge when stadiums get especially raucous and players have to rely on hand signals and other non-verbal methods of communication. 
When it gets loud I feel like I have the advantage,” he said. “I can tune that out.”
When he first began playing, sometimes the hearing aids would pop out. So he now wears two skill caps to assure they stay put. He also says he makes sure to replace the batteries in his hearing aids shortly before kickoff so they don’t run out during the game. 
"I always say that God blessed me this morning and I can do what I do."
Enter in the case for Duracell and their creative conclusion. When Coleman takes the field today in Seattle he will hear all of the fans—and he'll want to. This is yet another truth from advertising. 

In the article "What Advertising Does to Us," Susan Josephson writes. Advertising is structured to cause us to imitate and want what we see. It stimulates desire and asks us to act. This makes advertising potentially more dangerous than any other art form. If there is any art that is capable of killing America's soul, it is advertising. While I agree with her overall claim, I would invite her to consider these two advertisements. Pretty cool that they are matching up in today's NFC Championship game. I'm sure the sponsors are overjoyed....

Photo Credits
Great quote

Sign Language

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