Channel 4's £1m Diversity in Advertising Award challenges industry to authentically represent UK BAME cultures in advertising

Category: News Release
  • New research finds more than half of BAME people say current TV advertising does not represent different cultures well and 10% see no representation at all
  • Two thirds of BAME people would feel more positive about brands that showcase different cultures in their ad campaigns             

Channel 4 today announces its annual Diversity in Advertising Award is highlighting the lack of authentic representation of UK BAME cultures within TV advertising in 2020 and is now open for entries.

New research commissioned by 4Sales finds there is a universal lack of authentic portrayal in TV advertising of people from all BAME communities, their backgrounds, lives and cultures and so through this year’s award-winning competition the broadcaster is inviting the British advertising industry to tackle this issue. The winning campaign will be awarded £1m of Channel 4 commercial airtime.

Each year The Diversity in Advertising Award focuses on a different area of diversity to encourage the ad industry to embrace inclusive creative campaigns – and further Channel 4’s commitment to reflecting the cultural diversity of Britain beyond its editorial content and into the ad breaks.

This year the competition is an important part of Channel 4’s six-point commitment to be a driver of anti-racism in the creative industries and improve black and minority ethnic representation.

Results of a Channel 4 survey of 1000 people (500 BAME and 500 white)* reveal a widely held perception, particularly among BAME people that brands still aren’t doing enough to reflect different cultures in TV advertising.

  • More than half (51%) of BAME people say current TV advertising does not represent different cultures well (vs 38% white sample) – 10% said there is no representation at all.
  • Two thirds (62%) of BAME people say that current TV advertising does not represent black and brown culture well (vs 41% white people) – 12% said there is no representation at all.
  • Two thirds (64%) of BAME people say they’d feel more positive about any brand that showcases different cultures in their advertising (only 3% said they’d feel more negative).
  • 49% of white people said they’d feel more positive (only 4% said they’d feel more negative).

These new findings reflect those of the world’s biggest ever study in to diversity representation in TV ads, recently commissioned by 4Sales for which 1000 TV adverts were analysed over a two-month period to discover how minority groups are actually being portrayed. This also found that BAME cultures aren’t sufficiently or authentically represented in ads.

A diverse panel of judges will award the £1million prize to the brand and agency considered to have pitched the strongest campaign idea. In addition, the panel will select five runners up who Channel 4 will offer £250k of match funded commercial airtime.

Matt Salmon, Sales Director, Channel 4 said: “We know that the term BAME is imperfect, covering a range of different experiences and that the issues of representation and inclusion for different BAME communities are not homogenous. However, the lack of authenticity and mis representation in the portrayal of BAME cultures in TV advertising is universal and our research shows that the industry isn’t moving fast enough on this issue.

We hope this year’s Diversity in Advertising Award will once again encourage powerful creative campaigns that deliver positive progress towards reflecting the UK in all its diversity.”

Previous winners have focussed on disability (Maltesers), mental health (Lloyds Bank), the portrayal of women in the media (RAF) and the lack of representation and stereotyping of the LGBT+ community (Starbucks), seeing Channel 4 give away £4 million worth of commercial airtime to date.

Competition entries must be submitted by midnight 30th September. The winner and runners up will be announced in November with the campaign airing on Channel 4 in early 2021.


Notes to Editors

Industry comment

Leila Siddiqui, Associate Director, Diversity, IPA said: “The Channel 4 Annual Diversity award is aspirational for any agency or brand interested in inclusion and creating unstereotyped, authentic creative work – it’s prestigious, progressive and really could not have come at a better time, when the need to change both our culture and our work, with a particular bias to racial equality, is urgent, and small, incremental shifts just won’t cut it.”

Sophie Devonshire, CEO, The Marketing Society said: “Diversity makes a difference. The data shows clearly that diversity drives creativity, innovation and team success, so I want to help accelerate the way in which communications reflect diversity positively – for better business and a better world. The Marketing Society are delighted to be supporting the Channel 4 Diversity Award and the trailblazing work Channel 4 are doing in this area to champion it.”

Details about the award and how to enter are available here:   

4Sales’ 2019 Mirror on the Industry research

Working with YouGov in the most comprehensive study of its kind Channel 4 set out to quantify how well minority groups (disabled people, BAME and LGBT+) were represented within current TV advertising in the UK via an audit, as well as trying to understand the perception of representation within TV advertising amongst minority groups and the population as a whole. Findings include:

  • Nearly all minority groups play a lead role in only 1% of all ads
  • But negative experiences with representation are still apparent
  • 1/3 Black and 1/3 South Asian have seen their group represented in a tokenistic way in TV ads
  • Black people are 43% more likely and South Asian people are 35% more likely to have noticed tokenistic BAME representation than the total population
  • Inauthentic representation and ‘whitewashing’ of different cultures is a real problem
  • The current emphasis on how minority groups are different is the opposite of inclusivity

The full research can be found here.

*A survey of 1000 people (500 BAME and 500 white) was carried out by Channel 4 in June 2020 using OnePulse, an ‘opinion platform’. The research focussed on representation of BAME culture in advertising via a short questionnaire.