Winning ad from Channel 4’s £1 million Diversity in Advertising award airs tonight

Category: News Release

A provocative Royal Air Force campaign which challenges the sexist roles and negative clichés of women in advertising airs for the first time tonight - exclusively on Channel 4.

Launching within Channel 4’s hit show, The Last Leg, the campaign mocks the gender stereotypes which frequently appear in other mainstream advertising, juxtaposing these with their own female talent serving in front line RAF roles.

This standout piece of creative, imagined by RAF’s creative agency Engine is the third recipient of Channel 4’s industry leading £1 million Diversity in Advertising Award, which last year invited brands and agencies to pitch campaigns which would challenge ingrained stereotypes and the objectification and sexualisation of women.

The RAF faced stiff competition from brands including Cadbury Milk Tray, eBay and Flybe who also made the shortlist of finalists.

The campaign launches as early findings from a major new survey examining diversity in advertising revealed that the main problem with adverts featuring women is the roles in which they are portrayed rather than overall levels of representation.

The research, commissioned by Channel 4, studied the 1000 most watched TV adverts over a four week period and showed examples where women were portrayed in stereotypical and sometimes derogatory ways. In ads where women have a clearly defined role or occupation, just over 40 per cent showed women in a clichéd “homemaker” or “house wife” role.

Channel 4 will reveal the full details of what will be UK television’s largest ever survey of diversity in on-screen advertising during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June this year. It will cover the portrayal of women, BAME, LBGTQ+, disability and social mobility.

Channel 4’s Head of Agency & Client Sales,  Matt Salmon, said: “This RAF advert clearly illustrates the difference between how women are portrayed in advertising, compared to the realities of everyday life for a woman serving in the RAF.

“It is a worthy recipient of £1 million of our airtime and given our research shows that women are typically shoehorned into derogatory or stereotypical roles, campaigns such as this are long overdue. We hope that other brands now follow the RAF’s lead in considering how women are portrayed within advertising.”

Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot, Chief of Staff Personnel and Air Secretary, RAF says: “The Royal Air Force has been delighted to have worked on this venture with Channel 4 and Engine, allowing us to showcase the vast range of exciting opportunities available, regardless of gender. As an inclusive employer, the Royal Air Force continues to support each and every one of our personnel noting that they are as unique as the roles they fill.  Through teamwork we move forward in breaking down stereotypical barriers and hope to encourage others to do so through this campaign.”

Louise Hayward, Client Managing Director, Engine, said: “Gender parity will lead to a more effective RAF, and I’m incredibly proud to contribute to achieving that, whilst simultaneously challenging the often lazy portrayal of women in advertising.  I have been humbled by the incredible women in the RAF that I’ve met, and impressed with the fact that their gender is totally irrelevant to meeting the significant challenges they face every day.”

Sara Dunlop, Director of production company Rattling Stick, said: “This campaign was so satisfying to be involved with. By calling out the clichés and celebrating the incredible real women that work in the RAF, this campaign also became my own personal stand against all the female advertising out there that continues to patronise its audience.  I guess I won’t be getting sent those scripts anymore after this!”

Channel 4’s annual Diversity in Advertising Award aims to encourage the advertising industry to embrace inclusive campaigns, extending Channel 4’s leadership in diversity beyond its editorial output and into the ad breaks.

Channel 4 has committed to running the £1 million scheme until at least 2020 and the next iteration of the award will open for entries in June 2019.

In 2016 the competition focused on improving the representation of disability and was won by Mars and AMV for their Maltesers campaign. In 2017 the focus was on non-visible disabilities and was won by Lloyds Bank’s #GetTheInsideOut campaign on mental health.



About Channel 4

Channel 4 is a publicly-owned yet commercially-funded public service broadcaster and has a remit to be innovative, experimental and distinctive. Its public ownership and not-for-profit status ensure all profit generated by its commercial activity is directly reinvested back into the delivery of its public service remit. As a publisher-broadcaster, Channel 4 is also required to commission UK content from the independent production sector and currently works with around 300 creative companies across the UK every year. In addition to the main Channel 4 service, its portfolio includes: E4, More4, Film4, 4Music, 4seven, and digital service All 4.

More details about the Channel 4 £1 million Diversity in Advertising Award available here

About the RAF

Today’s RAF is the UK’s aerial, peacekeeping and fighting force. It’s made up of full-time Regulars and spare-time Reserves who come from diverse backgrounds and work side-by-side to make a difference at home and abroad. When it comes to recruitment our focus is attracting the best personnel and ensuring they’re well taken care of during and after their service in the RAF. We offer over 60 careers for professionals ranging from weapons systems operators to aircraft technicians; nursing officers to engineering officers; pilots to logistic officers; and flight operations officers to chefs. However, the opportunity and lifestyle that comes with joining the RAF is bigger than that. Regardless of role, gender, background or qualifications, we offer:

  • Greater experience and responsibility at a faster rate than in civilian roles
  • Individual responsibility within a wider team of exceptional individuals
  • A highly competitive benefits package
  • World-class training and ongoing development
  • The chance to work with cutting-edge technology
  • Opportunity to be part of an equal opportunity organisation listed as one of the Times Top 50 Employers for Women
  • A culture of camaraderie
  • Opportunities for adventure training across the globe
  • Excellent sporting opportunities and facilities 

About Engine

Engine exists to future-proof organisations. Driven by ideas. Fuelled by data. Powered by technology. We are a single business with a single vision to help our clients outperform in the present, and win in the future. Our unique model allows us to curate specialist teams around clients' needs. With expertise ranging from business transformation to data insights, brand consultancy to experience design, performance marketing to reputation management, PR to creative communications, no other company is better placed to help your business compete today, and thrive tomorrow.

Find out more at


Client: Royal Air Force

Agency: Engine

Chief Creative Officer: Billy Faithfull

Creative Director: Christopher Ringsell

Creative: Olly Courtney

Agency Producer: Nosisa Majuqwana

Account Handling: Joe Bowen-Hall, Richard Williams, Louise Hayward

Strategy: Ronaldo Pegoraro, Georgina Murray-Burton, John Crowther, Matt Rhodes

Media Agency: Manning Gottlieb OMD

Production Company: Rattling Stick

Director: Sara Dunlop

Producer: Tess Mitchell

DoP: Nanu Segal

Editor: Bill Smedley @ Work Post

Sound Design: Aaron Taffel @ Grand Central Recording Studio

Post-Production: Absolute Post

RAF Recruitment Marketing: Paul Harris, Rebekah Selman, Simon Briggs

Post-Production Company: Absolute Post

Executive Producer: Sally Heath

Post Production Producer: Geri Krasteva

Creative Partner: Phil Oldham

Grade: Matt Turner

2D Lead: Lora Nikolaeva

2D Assist: Jack Kennedy, Elliot Platt & Otis Guinness-Walker