—Look at this.
—This advert. ‘Stylish, compact hearing aid remote control.’
— Don’t you see? “Let me have a go on your stylish remote control. Does it come in black?” You’ll be the envy of all your friends.
—It’s just a word. They’re trying to sell a product.
—I understand that, but my question is this: why bother with the pretence? It’s a remote control. Leave it at that.
—I think most people do.
—Not the person who wrote it. So let’s say a guy has this convertible that he loves and he spends his free time driving around like a maniac with the top down, balling it along the highway, AC/DC on the airwaves. A decade later he loses his hearing because of the effect of the noise on his poor ears.
—Does that happen?
—It happened to my godfather.
—Eventually Mr Convertible realises that his hearing is not as hot as it used to be. He has to ask people to repeat themselves. He receives strange looks when he tries to guess the answer to a question he didn’t hear properly. It’s like he’s listening to conversations with his head in a bucket of water. He’s worried that he’ll never be able to enjoy AC/DC again. Luckily he has a good healthcare policy, so his GP refers him to a specialist and the specialist gets him fixed up with a Gucci hearing aid, and it’s fantastic because as long as he has it turned on and tuned in, he can hear just fine. The only downside is that now he’s a guy with a hearing aid.
—I don’t get it. What’s the problem?
—Come on. He knows how he reacts if he sees a guy with a hearing aid. Instantly writes him off. And now he’s joined the turn-a-blind-eye-to-the-people-with-deaf-ears club.
—I don’t think like that. It’s incredibly narrow-minded. Do you think like that?
—Of course I do. It’s Darwinian. Anyway, one day he’s flipping through a magazine and he sees this advert right here. For a stylish hearing aid remote control. It rubs salt in the wound. It cannot and never will be stylish. Remember when Morrissey wore a hearing aid? Even he couldn’t make it look good.
—But this is how advertising works.
—My point is that nobody is going to buy that remote because it’s stylish. They’re going to buy it because it’s convenient. Not everything has to be sexy or suave. Sometimes honesty can work too. ‘Look, we know you were dealt a crap hand, but this thing can help.’
—Of course it is. Maybe add something like ‘We’re all human. We get it. The essence of you remains whole. You do not need stylish. You are the lack of hearing and it is you. We will not force you to hide behind words that do not fit.’
—Why not? It has to be better than what we have right now.