Channel 4 finds purpose-driven ads resonate most with young viewers

Category: News Release


Brands which engage with important issues through purpose-driven advertising are able to build a stronger connection with young customers, according to new research from Channel 4’s 4 Sales. 

The research was commissioned to coincide with “PL4Y presents…” the first in a new series of exclusive, invitation-only events which bring together key influencers from across the ad industry to debate topical issues. 


Most respondents (55%) believe that brands should be a force for good in the world, rather than just selling products and services (45%) and young people are particularly receptive to ads with a message.  60% of 16 to 24 year olds claim to notice ads more if they deal with important issues, compared to 55% of 35 to 44 year olds and just 37% of those aged 45+.

Young people also have a high regard for products and services that feel ethical. Those aged 16 to 34 are 56% more likely to equate ethical products with better quality than those aged 35+. Most young people also claim that they’re willing to pay more for ethical products (56% of 16 to 34 year olds compared to 44% of 35+).  A perceived lack of ethics has a negative impact on impressions of a brand with 41% of young people claim to have boycotted a brand because they didn’t agree with what it stood for, compared to 33% of those aged 35+.

The research also found:

  • 57% of young people believe brands should use their advertising to raise awareness about social or ethical issues.
  • 60% of consumers believe that any brand can start a conversation or raise awareness about important issues.
  • Londoners care more about this kind of marketing than the rest of the country. They are 31% more likely to have boycotted a brand and 32% more likely to consider buying something if an ad features important issues.
  • 16 to 34s are 39% more likely to think it’s important that a brand features diversity in their advertising than those aged 35+.
  • 16-34s are almost twice as likely (98%) to claim that an advert has made them talk about important issues with friends or family than those aged 35+.
  • Among all audiences Channel 4 was felt to be the commercial channel most strongly championing social issues (49% Channel 4, 36% ITV, 20% Channel 5). 51% believe Channel 4 is more edgy and brave than other TV channels.

Jonathan Lewis, Head of Digital and Partnership Innovation, Channel 4, said:  “This research shows that the market for purpose-driven ads is far from saturated.  But people have very clear expectations about what they want from brands operating in this space: they need to be genuine in their messaging, stay relevant to their industries and create resonant ads that cut through. 

“I am looking forward to discussing this research and whether creativity for good is good for creativity with our guests at PL4Y Presents… ”


Notes to Editors 


  • Hook Research ran four focus groups each with 24 16-34 year olds in London and Manchester and collated survey responses from 1000 people – half aged 16-34 and half 35-65, and analysis  of social media engagement with purpose-driven campaigns
  • Additionally 61 individuals working in agencies across the UK were surveyed about the role of purpose-driven campaigns in the advertising environment and what they think consumers consider important when making purchases.

About PL4Y:

PL4Y – where curiosity inspires great ideas


PL4Y is 4 Sales’ integrated creative approach; both a culture and practice that encourage curiosity and courage in ideas. Through the practice of PL4Y briefs are interrogated more ruthlessly to define the real challenge and identify the best possible way Channel 4 can add value to a brand.


At the heart of PL4Y is collaboration, working with agencies and clients as early as possible to look at what can be done differently, using a raft of techniques, tools and games to power fresh and bold thinking. This is underpinned by a workshop culture that is planned and executed in the PL4Y house – 4Sales’ dedicated creative space in central London where agencies and clients have full access to all of PL4Y’s resources.


PL4Y takes inspiration from anywhere, looking outside of the traditional broadcast sphere and forging partnerships that can drive even better creative ideas that deliver results.