Here’s how you quantify the power of a viral video. More than 7.7 million views = a 150 percent jump in sales inquiries for the hearing aide company Envoy Medical.
Sixteen days ago 29-year-old Sarah Churman posted a video of herself hearing her voice loud and clear for the first time after being implanted with Envoy Medical’s Esteem device. The video went viral, sales have spiked and Churman and Envoy have shared the spotlight on The Today Show, Ellen DeGeneres, Fox and Friends, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, among others. The story was also covered on 150 local television stations, and the media attention keeps coming: MSNBC will be doing a story at Churman’s house.
Envoy already spends around $8 million to $10 million a year on radio advertising with announcers including Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Michael Savage. Company CEO Patrick Spearman said as a result of the video big-name celebrities have approached Envoy about getting the device. Spearman thinks that development could lead to television appearances as well as television advertising.
In addition to an increase in media exposure and sales, the video also led to a lot of skepticism. Critical anonymous online commenters accused Envoy of creating the video as a marketing strategy. Envoy has posted around 20 to 25 similar videos themselves in the past, though none of them had the same impact as Churman’s.
Did Envoy have something to do with it?
“Absolutely not,” Spearman said. “It was a surprise to us.”
Churman’s husband posted it to YouTube “thinking his family and friends would watch it and people were so touched by it that all of a sudden it went viral,” Spearman said.
Envoy Medical has since given Churman a free device for her other ear.
“It’s basically a reimbursement for her time,” Spearman said, pointing out that she’s been flying all over the country for television appearances.
Also, commenters were skeptical of Churman’s clear speech and stated that a deaf person would not be able to hear their own voice – or recognize it if they did.
“The definition of deaf is somewhat of a range,” Spearman said. “If you have a severe hearing loss, you’re considered deaf, anything over a 70 decibel loss.
“The skepticism, you’re always going to have people who are skeptical but the reason is because she said I heard my voice for the first time. Well, what she heard was her real voice, the same way you and I hear our own voice. She could hear something [before]. Not a lot, and not very well, but she could hear tones and sounds or she wouldn’t be able to speak. And that’s where this came from, people saying, ‘Well, she’s not deaf.’
“Well, it’s just a matter of semantics and how you define deaf, but she basically has a severe hearing loss because I’ve obviously seen her audiogram. She had a 70 to 75 decibel loss at 1500 to 2000 hertz, and that’s a severe hearing loss.”
The Esteem medical device, which is implanted behind the ear, converts vibrations picked up by the eardrum into electronic signals, cleans them up with a sound processor and then converts them back into mechanical sounds.
It’s been available in the United States since March 2010.