Media release

Five years commitment to good hearing


Staefa, Switzerland, October 19, 2011

Five years ago, Hear the World, a global initiative set up by Swiss hearing instrument manufacturer Phonak, was launched with a big vision in mind: to make the general public aware of the importance of good hearing and the consequences of hearing loss, as well as to inform them about prevention and solutions. Today over 50 celebrity ambassadors around the world support the mission of Hear the World. It was also in 2006 that the Hear the World Foundation, an organization which works to promote equal opportunities and a better quality of life for people with hearing loss, was established. Since its launch, the Foundation has provided sustainable support for projects with a total value of over a million Swiss francs. Furthermore, the HEAR THE WORLD magazine, the first lifestyle magazine dedicated to the subject of hearing, is also celebrating an anniversary with the publication of its 20th issue.

Over 800 million people throughout the world – around 16 percent of the global population – are affected by hearing loss. In Germany alone, experts estimate that around 16 million people are living with some degree of hearing loss. However, far more important than the statistics are the effects of hearing loss for each person affected. Hearing loss means much more than simply poor hearing. People with untreated hearing loss often have to struggle with social isolation, problems in their relationships, disadvantages at work and even depression. Hear the World was launched five years ago to raise public awareness of the underappreciated issue of hearing and to support those affected by it across the world. A glance at some of the highlights from the last five years shows the great success of Hear the World.

Prominent ambassadors who attract attention

Plácido Domingo, Sting, Take That, Bobby McFerrin, Lenny Kravitz, Annie Lennox, Ben Kingsley, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton and Julianne Moore are just a few of over 50 celebrities who have supported Hear the Word as ambassadors. They have all been photographed by the rock legend and photographer Bryan Adams in the pose synonymous with conscious hearing – with a hand cupped behind the ear. This is a unique sign of support which makes a considerable contribution to increasing public awareness of the issue of hearing.

Events that create awareness

In 2008 and 2009, the spectacular ‘Hear the World Ambassadors’ series of exhibitions with installations in New York, Berlin, Zurich and London caused something of a sensation. In 2010, the first charity gala in aid of the Hear the World Foundation was held in Berlin, raising around EUR 50,000 in donations. This also provided the setting for the presentation of the Hear the World Awards for special services relating to the issue of hearing and hearing loss. In the anniversary year of 2011, the upcoming CHANCES* photo exhibition in Hamburg will be huge highlight: following the formal opening with celebrity guests on November 16, an impressive range of photos, which have been taken as part of the aid project in Nairobi run by the Hear the World Foundation, will be on display in the Flo Peters Gallery until November 27. The proceeds from the sale of the photographs will go directly to the Foundation.

A foundation that offers sustainable support

The Hear the World Foundation was launched in 2006 and particularly provides support for children with hearing loss, to enable them to develop at an appropriate rate for their age. Thus, the Foundation is currently supporting projects in twelve countries worldwide. The support provided since 2006, which now totals more than a million Swiss francs, comes in the form of financial aid or in the implementation of teams working locally. An overview of the Foundation’s work can be found here.

A magazine that sets standards

The HEAR THE WORLD magazine is celebrating its 20th issue with the wonderful actress and Hear the World ambassador Freida Pinto featured on the cover. The first glossy magazine on the subject of hearing has now been bringing its readers closer to the numerous facets and the fascination of hearing for five years and has consistently broken new ground. In the past, the issue of hearing has been viewed in rather a dry, sober way. Now, for the first time, the magazine brings a mix of lifestyle and culture to the issue of hearing. All net profits from the magazine go to the Hear the World Foundation and can be reinvested in projects immediately Hear the World – an awarded initiative.

Over the past five years, Hear the World has successfully raised awareness in the media and among the general public of the previously neglected issue of hearing. This is a success story that has won over 20 prestigious awards for communication and marketing, including the Sabre Awards, PR Week Awards, the Econ Award, the Comprix and the Marketing Trophy.

Among those who have offered their birthday congratulations is Bryan Adams, who, having been a supporter of the initiative right from the start, has made a substantial contribution to the success of Hear the World through his photography: “As a musician, I’m naturally sympathetic to a cause like Hear the World which is dedicated to helping people appreciate and preserve an individual’s sense of sound. Through my photography, I have been able to support this cause and to know that images of artists are being used to convey the message of improvement of hearing for those impaired, makes the Hear the World photos we do together so much stronger. The personal highlights in my five years working with the foundation are many and I am looking forward to many more successful years helping Hear the World to spread its word. Happy Birthday Hear the World!”

“I would like to take this opportunity to express special thanks to all our supporters for their huge level of commitment. Together we have achieved a great deal since the launch of Hear the World, and have been able to make it clear to many people just how important good hearing is for their lives,” says Alexander Zschokke, Interim CEO of Phonak and founder of Hear the World. “But the need for awareness is still as great now as before. And for this reason, we will approach the next five years with plenty of vigor and new ideas. There is still so much to do!”