For Whom The Beltones

Grampa!  I said your penis is sticking through your zipper!

Grampa! I said your penis is sticking through your zipper!

tuesday tvThe human body is an amazing living machine, jam packed with five senses that allow us to experience nearly everything in the world we will one day end up destroying.  Unfortunately, like most cars that have rolled off the post-bailout assembly line, the body just wasn’t built to last.  Eventually, our skin will wrinkle up into folds big enough to hide a corpse in, our eyes will lose the ability to see the paltry amount on our Social Security checks, and our nose will become so clogged full of hair that we won’t even be able to bask in the aroma of our own flatulence…

What was that?  Did you say something, squirrel?

What was that? Did you say something, squirrel?

And it’s inevitable that our hearing we so often take for granted will eventually begin to deteriorate like the quality of my blog.  Sure, it’s easy to get a pair of glasses when our vision gets a little fuzzy, but at least once you get out of junior high, corrective lenses are generally considered to be socially acceptable… and in an odd way, even sexy.

Not a single person seems to have noticed my new glasses yet!

Not a single person seems to have noticed my new glasses yet!

But hearing problems are usually corrected via a device the size of an air conditioning unit that’s strung around the lobe of your ear… or at least that’s what people who are stuck in the 80’s recall grandma wearing while she would sit in her rocking chair and knit them new legwarmers to wear over their jellies.  However, hearing aid science has long since advanced to the point where it requires wearing cumbersome attachments on the side of your head just to be able to hear the honking horn from the car behind you desperately waiting for you to acknowledge the green light.  And the proof is in this late 80’s retro ad from Beltone, the undisputed lightweight champion of hearing aids…

Taking a cue from fellow geriatric services company Craftmatic, Beltone dug themselves up Eddie Albert to be their spokesman… and actor who not only was well known to the senior set back in the day, but who already looked like he was about 80 when he was the talk of Hooterville.

Dunna da dun dun... DUN DUN!

Dunna da dun dun… DUN DUN!

Eddie Albert wants to know if any of these overly dramatic re-enactments sound familiar….

Does a loved one have trouble catching what you said?

We like to call this "selective hearing."

I think this is what’s called “selective hearing.”

Or maybe they accuse you of always talking like you’re chewing on possum cud…

Try removing the coffee cup from your mouth, dear.

Try removing the coffee cup from your mouth when you call your mother a stupid deaf bitch, dear.

Does your domestic partner have trouble hearing due to the overwhelming background noise in a quiet restaurant?

There's so much noise in here?  Try eating at a Chuck E. Cheese, lead ears.

There’s so much noise in here? Try eating at a Chuck E. Cheese, lead ears.

Eddie Albert, reporting live from an actual Beltone waiting room where hearing impaired people have been waiting all day to see the damn hearing aid doctor, wants you to know he can help.  Eddie’s sales pitch is so smoothly down to earth, that you’d swear he was trying to sell you a pre-arranged funeral rather than a gizmo to stick in your ear.  His empathy level is off the charts, and he almost sounds like he’s on a daytime PBS show trying to explain complicated things to little children… or perhaps people with an IQ so low that they probably lost their hearing from sticking too many pencils in their ears…

Not that I know anything about that...

Not that I know anything about that…

Eddie shows off the Beltone Petite®… a hearing aid so small that the only way you wouldn’t be able to see it would be to stand so far away that it would be hidden by the earth’s curvature.  That doesn’t stop Mr. Douglas from showing off this modern miracle of microtechnology, and point out that even he’s wearing one.

That's not Eddie's Beltone Petite.  It's lost amidst all of the potatoes and carrots in his hairy ear canal.

That’s not Eddie’s Beltone Petite. It’s lost amidst all of the potatoes and carrots in his hairy ear canal.

Beltone once had an ad campaign where people would stop while out in public, break the fourth wall, and admit to us and everyone within earshot that “Nobody notices my Beltones!”   That’s like pausing in the middle of a crowded mall to announce to a mannequin in a window display that nobody notices your Depends…

Introducing the Pampers Petite.

Introducing the Pampers Petite.

If you call right now, Eddie will happily send you some company literature that will make for great bathroom reading for those days when the Metamucil kicks in.  Of course, if the cover design of the pamphlet is any indication of its content… it may be the most boring collection of words ever thrown together outside of a legal notice in the classifieds…

The graphic designer for the Beltone Guide To Better Hearing pamphlet has many, many impairments beyond just hearing.

The graphic designer for the Beltone Guide To Better Hearing pamphlet has many, many functional impairments beyond just hearing.

Seriously, this was the best they could do to promote the company and its fine hearing enhancement products?  Couldn’t they have put a picture of grandpa sitting with the grandkids on his lap leafing through one of his old Playboys?  Or at least a little circle in the bottom left corner with a fake, but enthusiastic sign language interpreter within it?  The creativity level associated with this ad is almost repulsively bad… even by 80’s standards.  Hell, especially by 80’s standards.  Sure Mentos and Kool Aid had fucked up commercials… but at least you could tell there were wheels spinning somewhere in the demented minds who conceived them…

Hey... this mint tastes like earwax.

Hey… this petite mint tastes like earwax.

Then again… in a way, this commercial is also fucking brilliant.  Perhaps Eddie’s soft spoken, grandfatherly approach wasn’t just an oversight by the trained monkey who was in charge of making sure Beltone’s advertising dollars were being used effectively.  Maybe it was actually a clever attempt to trick people who couldn’t understand a fucking word the old geezer was whispering into having their own hearing checked.  It looks like Eddie Albert got some great shady marketing advice from this former neighbor…

Operators are standing by, ready to speak in very soft voices.

Operators are standing by, ready to speak in very soft voices.

Are the joyous sounds of the world passing your cochlea by?  Whether it’s just a sign of old age or too much cranking the amps up to eleven in your youth, it would be wise to seek out a little auditory aid to undo the mute button of life.  And for providing us with something to shove in the ear that isn’t being occupied by the iPod earbud, we at The Nest salute Beltone and Eddie Albert for getting out the good news about their micro sound machines, all the while maintaining a library hush and a Mr. Rogers smile.  Thanks to your perfectly petite plug that fits snugly within all the wax in our auditory canal, we are now totally prepared to finally be able to hear our favorite comedian….

Sorry Sam, but you won't be appearing in my Top 30 Cover Song countdown...

Sorry Sam, but you won’t be appearing in my Top 30 Cover Song countdown…


About evilsquirrel13

Bored former 30-something who has nothing better to do with his life than draw cartoon squirrels.
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29 Responses to For Whom The Beltones

  1. Excuse me, could you repeat that?

    • Speak up, lady! It’s noisy with all these beep boops…

      • Garry Armstrong says:

        Squirrel, this is truly evil. Maybe even blatantly racist if I can find an angle. I LOVE it! You’re yelling to the choir with this one. As you may know, I’ve worn hearing aids all my life, dating back to when they were the small portable radios with the wire and earpiece. So damn humiliating for a young guy!! As time went by, technology upgraded me to the tiny, all in the ear aids. They were invisible on TV so it was great for me as I worked except when I did live shots. Then, I had to replace one of my hearing aids with the IFB thingy which allowed everyone to talk into my ear and head. Sometimes there were two or three dozen people talking and shouting into my IFB as I calmly did my live reports.
        Meantime, the other hearing aid would often pick up frequencies from nearby radio towers.
        So, I had myriad TV people shouting into my IFB and Air Traffic Controllers shouting into my hearing aid….all while I calmly delivered the live reports.
        Marilyn actually saw and heard a tape of one of these live shots and was amazed that I could function during all the calamity. That’s why they paid me the big bucks. Sure!
        And, I once interviewed Eddie Albert when he was filming “Yes, Gorgio” in Boston. Eddie was sunbathing along the Charles River. He smiled when he caught a glimpse of my tiny hearing aids and pulled his out for comparison.
        A lot of “what’s?” that day.
        Fast forward to the present, I have the current behind the ears model hearing aids.
        My hearing is getting worser. Huh?
        Can you hear me now??

      • Some people only imagine they have voices talking in their head, but I guess you really had a whole calliope of background noise between the ears! Now that is professionalism personified… some of these young news people on TV these days can’t even hold their umbrellas and tell us it’s raining outside (duh!) at the same time.

        Excuse me, Mr. Albert, but would you autograph my hearing aid for me? Now there’s a priceless story…

      • Tune in tomorrow …

  2. fanrosa says:

    Farm livin’ is the life for me! I’m always happy when retro Tuesday shows up in the ol’ mailbag…

    I can’t be the only one who read that first caption and then looked at the picture again to see if it was true, can I?

    Apparently Douglas Oliver Douglas still had some pull in Hollywood to get the hard of hearing demo. Just ask poor June Allyson, who got stuck with trying to hawk adult diapers to the incontinent crowd….

    Coincidentally, my mother got mail for me at her house yesterday. I’ve never lived at her current address and my last name hasn’t been the same for over 20 years. It was from a hearing aid place. They must get a list somewhere of upcoming birthdays and decided I was so damned old that I must be stone deal by now.

    • Eddie and June can commiserate with Bob Dole at the Embarrassing Spokesperson Convention…

      I love the weird way that junk mail works. I get Victoria’s Secret ads addressed to one of my sisters. I just love handing them off when I pick up Dad for lunch…

  3. Mental Mama says:

    My 83 year old grandmother can barely hear even with her hearing aids because she refuses to get new ones. Evidently they don’t make the kind she likes anymore.

  4. Trisha says:

    Another thing from the 80’s I don’t remember! I’m starting to believe that underage binge drinking really does cause brain damage and permanent memory loss. Although, this commercial was so low-key for the 80’s that maybe forgetting it is understandable. With no terrible background music and no cheesy jingle, it probably just slipped into the background far behind all the other obnoxious stuff that aired during commercial breaks.

    Thank you for all the great lines in this. Laughing is such a great way to start the day!

    • Ads like this usually aired during daytime TV (When seniors were usually watching) and late, late night TV (when ad time was dirt cheap)… so depending on when you normally watched TV circa 1989, you may not have ever seen this commercial. I was a night owl as a kid, so I remember it well…

      I’ll try to keep more of these hilarious looks back at old commercials coming!

  5. draliman says:

    I don’t know how it sounded to you, but when I played the YouTube ad it had such a weird buzzing in the background I almost dialled the number and panic-bought a Beltone, thinking my hearing was failing at that very moment! It’s like subliminal advertising for the ears.

  6. Merbear74 says:

    I think a good ear wax cleaning could help me hear better….

  7. pishnguyen says:

    OK, so I know this is totally NOT the point of this post, but …

    OMG, MENTOS GUY!!! How I’ve missed his cheerful, mint-eating mug. Seriously, what is in those mints? He always looked incredibly happy to have them. Suspicious …

  8. gentlestitches says:

    It all makes sense now….why oliver couldn’t understand Arnold!

  9. Ally Bean says:

    You’d think that Oliver might want to forget his hearing aid from time-to-time. Especially when Lisa was whining about– well, everything. But no. Oliver sold those Beltone dealies for years. Probably to help pay the mortgage on the farm!


  11. markbialczak says:

    Five years ago I was afraid that 20 years of reviewing concerts and CDs had done a Sopranos-like wack-job on my hearing, so I went to the auditory specialist, Bill. After going through all the beep-boop-bip-bop tests, the ear doctor told me I was perfectly in line for somebody my age. Now I’m not as old as Eddie, so I was still smart enough to say, “What the hell does that mean? Am I going deaf or not?” She said no, but don’t expect to hear at 52 like I did at 42 or or 32. I asked if that’s why I say, “What?” to my dear wife so much while we’re watching reruns of “Green Acres” on TV. She said, no, that’s selective hearing, which all husbands have at all ages.

    • Yes, and I’m pretty sure that’s what was going on in the first segment of that ad. I have a bad habit of asking people to repeat themselves if they say something to me while I was off guard. Even if I’m pretty sure I know what they said, I want to hear it again while I’m at full attention. The customers at Mecca are the most common victims of my wanting to be sure I’m responding to the correct question…



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