Spikes Asia

Hear Gear

VML, Sydney / COLGATE / 2024

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AFL (Australia-rules Football) Is the NFL of Australia. It’s our biggest and most beloved sport. Colgate is the official sponsor of the league and activates it through the brand platform ‘Smile Strong.’ An organizing idea that’s all about overcoming adversity to become the best possible version of yourself.

While working with Jamie Howell, a Colgate sponsored Deaf AFL player, we realized while she wears a Cochlear implant she couldn’t hear anything while playing on the field. The industry standard headgear she wears for protection muffles any sound waves that her implant receives. As a result, Jamie was at a major disadvantage, having to learn to communicate with her team solely on eye contact and signals. Our solution was to come up with a new technology that would enable Jamie to hear while playing, but also ensure other Deaf and Hard Of Hearing athletes who wear protective headgear could benefit.


Colgate partnered with Steeden to develop 'Hear Gear', a ground-breaking protective headgear designed and equipped with specialised technology to assist Deaf and Hard of Hearing Australian rules football players with hearing implants on the field. Hear Gear uses a new mould, with contoured padding that protects, accommodates and channels sound to the hearing implant. The lines on Hear Gear represent the sound of the AFL field that the wearer now has the means to hear.


So, what does Colgate have to do with sport? What does toothpaste have to do with deaf people? While most oral hygiene brands focus purely on the cosmetic smile. Colgate goes deeper to explore what goes into the making of a smile… What’s behind the smile? As champions of optimism and fierce backers of the underdog, Colgate understands there’s no smile more powerful or fulfilling than one that has overcome adversity.


Colgate launched Hear Gear with a TVC a targeted media buy which ran during the AFL season. The TVC trafficked to a microsite that encouraged our audience to register to receive one of the units available. The media plan was targeted specifically around our AFL audience and was accompanied by a highly effective editorial and PR campaign that saw Colgate Hear Gear appearing in national news and publications.


Hear Gear has kicked goals.

The campaign contributed to a positive shift in Colgate brand perceptions, including a 10% lift for being inspiring. We also saw a 17% lift in the perception that Colgate does the right thing by the community. Just as there’s been a positive shift in brand perception, we’re made a positive impact in the Deaf Community.

Colgate fully funded the first production run of Hear Gear, and we have allocated all units available. During on field testing with Jamie Howell, Hear Gear not only protected her implant from impact but also improved sound clarity by 90% enabling verbal communication on the field.

Hear Gear is currently designed for use in the AFL and NRL but we have extended the campaigns lifespan to capture additional interest and extend the capabilities of Hear Gear outside of sport.

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