Colgate-Palmolive launches latest iteration of Smile Strong platform via VMLY&R and WPP

Colgate-Palmolive has partnered with WPP agencies VMLY&R and Wavemaker to launch a new campaign highlighting the experience of what it is like to be a deaf athlete.

‘The Sound of a Smile’ is the latest iteration of Colgate-Palmolive’s Smile Strong platform, which is centred around championing stories that connect with the power of optimism in action.

The campaign is part of the brand’s ongoing partnership with the AFL, as the code’s ‘Official Smile’ since May 2020, celebrating champions of optimism in the sport, from elite players, to grassroots.

Starring in the campaign is QAFLW athlete Jamie Howell, and her team the Yeronga Devils, led by captain Mia Walsh. The work centres on Jamie’s experience as a deaf athlete and her journey with her team as they navigate the gameplay and even learn their team song in Auslan.

“For the past 3 years, Colgate has been sharing stories from real people who’ve found the courage to Smile Strong and keep doing what it takes to make the world a better place and we’re so excited to be able to share the story of Jamie and The Yeronga Devils,” said Anthony Crewes, marketing director, ANZ.

“It’s not always easy to be an optimist, but when you make that choice it can be a powerful force for change in your life. Championing optimism means we are committed to creating a healthier planet and work every day to create healthy smiles for all. It’s an honour to share stories of those that demonstrate the same mentality.”

The campaign launched with a hero TVC that aired on primetime television during AFL games, with amplification across the AFL website and app, in stadium and in cinema, via a partnership with Val Morgan to leverage the Dolby Atmos experience.

The second phase of the campaign will roll out this week, with a social campaign across Instagram and Tiktok, following Jamie Howell as she translates 7 AFL team songs into Auslan, inviting people to learn the songs in Auslan and share in their own videos.

Colgate, via Wavemaker, will also engage with AFL players and influencers (hearing impaired and non-Deaf) to duet with Jamie’s Auslan signing.

Alison Tilling, VMLY&R chief strategy officer said: “The Sound of a Smile work takes on a challenge: in Australian sport, we can be deaf to the pain of being ‘different’. The Yeronga Devils team were true optimists, acting on differences to get to real inclusion. Sports are meant to unite us. How can we all be like the QAFLW Yeronga Devils teammates and really embrace difference?”

Shivani Maharaj, Wavemakers chief content & partnerships officer said: “As we move into AFL finals, we are so proud to work on this Colgate campaign championing inclusivity by teaching fans of AFL a new way to support their team using Auslan. It is about making an entire community feel heard and included. To make a community Smile!”


Yves Briantias – Vice President Marketing, APAC
Lyndon Morant – Marketing Director IMC
Anthony Crewes – Marketing Director, ANZ
Kate Hickey – Associate Director Marketing – Oral Care, ANZ
Maria Casas – IBE Lead, ANZ
Ashleigh Wright – Senior Brand Manager, ANZ
Lucy Basil-Jones – Brand Manager, ANZ
Carla Rando – Assistant Brand Manager, ANZ
Silvana Pandrea – Senior Insights Planner, ANZ

Paul Nagy – Chief Creative Officer AUNZ
Alison Tilling – Chief Strategy Officer AUNZ
Blair Panozza – Senior Creative
Bryce Waters – Senior Creative
Rachel Rider – Executive Producer
Elaine Loke – Group Account Director
Sinead Kelly – Account Director
Ned Lindsay – Account Executive

Laura Brady – Group Account Director
Shivani Maharaj – Chief Content and Partnerships Officer
Alexia Antonis – Group Director, Content & Partnerships
Evie Gardiner – Comms Manager
Laura Castro – Marketplace Associate Director
JennyX He – Marketplace Associate Manager
Angelli Westman – Comms Co-ordinator

Alice Davidson – Head of INCA

Taxi Film
Director: Tony Prescott
Producer: Simone Mackie
DOP: Mark Desiatov
Sound Post: RanRun
Editor: Leigh Cooke
Grade: CJ Dobson
Online: Vandal
Photography: Sam Scoufos
Retouching: Mark Sterne


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