C4's £1m Diversity in Advertising Award to highlight LGBT+ representation

Category: News Release

Channel 4 today announced the next iteration of its award-winning £1 million Diversity in Advertising Award will tackle the lack of representation and stereotyping of the LGBT+ community.

The award, which offers £1 million worth of commercial airtime to the winning creative idea, is challenging brands and creative agencies to develop a campaign which puts people from the LGBT+ community at the heart of their advertising without being tokenistic.

The focus of this year’s competition comes after Channel 4’s sales house, 4Sales, commissioned the world’s biggest study in to diversity representation in TV ads, analysing 1,000 television adverts over a two-month period, to discover how minority groups are actually being portrayed.  The research discovered that LGBT+ people hardly appear in adverts and can be stereotyped or portrayed negatively.

Matt Salmon, Channel 4’s Head of Agency and Client Sales, said: “Our study, and the focus groups we conducted alongside it, showed that despite the lip service paid to diversity, there’s still a long way to go before we have authentic representation in television ads.

“Channel 4 is determined to drive change in this area and we particularly want to challenge advertisers to up their game in the representation of people from the LGBT+ community.”

The research also found:

  • People from the LGBT+ community feature in just 3% of the adverts in the survey, despite making up at least 6% of the UK population
  • A quantitative survey of 2,000 adults found that the wider population hugely overestimates the percentage of adverts that include members of the LGBT+ community (22%) versus the reality (3%)
  • Among the focus groups, many LBGT+ people felt adverts relied on same sex couples with little thought being given to bisexuals, gender fluid and transgender people
  • And many of the LGBT+ focus group felt advertisers fell foul of resorting to common stereotypes portraying lesbians as ‘butch’, gay men as ‘camp’ or showing gay characters in a party scene
  • Sixty per cent of the 2,000 adults surveyed felt the LGBT+ community, when it did appear in adverts, was represented in a negative way, often in supporting, tokenistic roles. People also said that same-sex relationships were given very brief exposure in adverts and rarely as part of a family unit.

The annual Channel 4 Diversity in Advertising Award has so far given away £3 million worth of commercial airtime. Previous winners of the award have focussed on disability, mental health and the portrayal of women in the media.

In addition to offering £1 million worth of commercial airtime to the winner, Channel 4 will also offer to match-fund a maximum of four runners-up’s campaigns to the tune of £250k.

Each year the award concentrates on a different area of diversity and encourages the advertising industry to embrace inclusive campaigns and extend Channel 4’s leadership in diversity beyond its editorial output and into the ad breaks.

This year’s competition was today launched at 4Sales’ Upfront event which showcases Channel 4’s up-coming commercial plans and programme highlights to the advertising industry.

Details on how to enter Channel 4’s £1m Diversity in Advertising Award 2019 can be found online at the 4Sales website. The closing date for written submissions is 10th July 2019.



Notes to Editors

4Sales commissioned independent research organisation YouGov to explore this topic through a multi-layered research approach.

First, they coded 1,000 TV adverts from two typical months in 2018 (the top 500 adverts in both May & September). These 1,000 adverts accounted for just under two-thirds (73%) of all adult advertising impacts from the periods, so accounted for the majority of the population’s typical advertising viewing.

YouGov marked each advert for the representation of each group - whether they were featured in the ad at all, and then, if they were, exactly how they were represented- (e.g. were they playing a lead role in the advert or were they a background character, could their appearance in the advert be deemed as derogatory, stereotypical or pushing the boundaries).

To supplement this, a quantitative survey was carried out of 2,000 adults representative of the UK– including a boost sample for each of the minority groups we looked at – to the perceptions of the total population in comparison to specific minority groups – primarily BAME, LGBTQ+ and people living with a disability.

Finally, we ran three 90-minute online focus groups with people living with a physical or mental disability, members of the LGBT+ community and members of the BAME community to explore in more detail key themes that emerged from the quant.