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Why Mars is using diversity as a ‘creative springboard’ to unlock more effective advertising

Mars Chocolate is on a drive to better represent the diversity of the British public in its advertising and is taking learnings from its latest Maltesers campaign, starring people with a disability, to use the lens of diversity to create more effective advertising.

The maker of Galaxy, Snickers and Milky Way recently won Channel 4’s 'Superhumans Wanted' competition, which offered brands and advertisers the chance to win £1m of the broadcaster’s airtime to develop a creative idea that puts disability and diversity at the heart of the campaign.

Maltesers and creative agency AMV came up with a series of three ads all inspired by real-life stories from disabled people, that celebrate universally awkward situations, such as embarrassing moments with new boyfriends to behaving badly at a wedding. The idea is that the adverts show how humour can be a powerful force for positive change in breaking down barriers surrounding disability.

Michele Oliver, VP of marketing at Mars Chocolate UK told The Drum that the business was already looking at how it could become more diverse when the competition came to its attention, and was serendipitously at the same time developing the latest Maltesers campaign idea.

“We were looking at the diversity in our communications and realised that we could do better at representing the diversity of the people who buy and eat our chocolate brands. We were working on that with the agency, and what it would look like, when someone told us about the competition. We were also in the middle of new advertising on the Maltesers brand, which looks at the light side of life and those things all kind of came together, so we thought let’s go for it, let’s not just talk about diversity let’s do something.”

The adverts will be broadcast for the first time on Channel 4 during the 2016 Paralympics Games Opening Ceremony tomorrow evening (7 September), and for the first time in the UK one of the ads will be aired in silence using just British Sign Language to communicate, with no subtitles.

Moving forward Mars is hoping that by approaching its advertising through the lens of diversity it will be able to create more effective adverts, and is considering using one of its chocolate brands as a platform for disability.

“These Maltesers adverts are very much a first step [to becoming more diverse] … one of the things we are looking at is our casting for all of our future adverts in the UK, ensuring that when we cast for a main character in an ad we are looking at a diverse range of options, whether that is ethnicity, whether that is disability, or the nature of the families that we show.

“The second thing that we are going to do is to look at diversity as a creative springboard to unlock creativity on some of our existing campaign ideas and how that might unlock even better and more effective advertising for us going forward. Then the third step internally is whether there are any brands, and we haven’t answered this yet, that we can use diversity as a platform in a way that Lynx recently have.”

Latest figures reveal that 80 per cent of disabled people feel underrepresented by TV and the media, and Oliver believes a contributor to progress is a brand’s desire “not to cause offence”, and advised the industry to “be brave” and also work with an expert as it did with charity Scope for the Maltesers campaign to ensure its executions would resonate with people who have a disability.

Lisa Quinlan-Rahman, director of external affairs at Scope added: “We hope this step by Mars is the first of many. The purple pound is worth over £200 billion a year, and we’d like to see more companies recognising the spending power of disabled consumers.”

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Natalie Mortimer

I look after all things creative.

All by Natalie