Marks & Spencer, Bose, Ford and more up for Channel 4's £1m diversity airtime award

Maltesers won Channel 4’s 'Superhumans' Wanted competition last year

Channel 4 has revealed the shortlist for its inaugural £1m 'Diversity in Advertising' award, with entries from Marks & Spencer, Ford and Panasonic having made it on to the list.

Channel 4 is offering advertisers £1m worth of its commercial airtime in exchange for an advert that promotes diversity, each year the prize will focus on a different area of diversity to encourage the industry to embrace inclusive campaigns.

This year, the brief for brands and agencies was to develop an ad pinned around non-visible disability. Seven brands have been shortlisted for the prize, including: Bose and Valenstein & Fatt (Grey London); BT and AMV BBDO; Ford and GTB; Lloyds and Adam&Eve; M&S and Valenstein & Fatt (Grey London); Panasonic and Brave; and Volvo and Valenstein & Fatt (Grey London).

They will pitch their ideas to a specially selected juding panel on 19 July, having been cherry picked from over 50 entries.

Brands and agencies pitched more than 50 high quality campaign, according to Channel 4, with ideas featuring a range of non-visible disabilities such as depression, autism, deafness, Alzheimer’s and obsessive compulsive disorder.

The scheme from the network follows on from the network's 2016 'Superhumans Wanted' competition, which saw Malteasers win £1m of the channel's airtime during the Paralympic Games broadcast from Rio. Malteasers said the creative, which featured three ads all inspired by real-life stories from disabled people, was its most successful push in a decade.

"The ideas submitted this year were so compelling it emphasises just how important this award is," said Jonathan Allan, sales director at Channel 4. “ £1m of airtime definitely helps brands really think about the way they approach their campaign strategies and the commercial success Maltesers’ winning ads experienced last year is a clear testimony to the power of putting diversity front and centre of the creative idea. I can’t wait to see this competitive shortlist pitch for the prize alongside my fellow judges to help select the winner.”

The judging panel is chaired by Allan, and will feature input from a variety of industry figures including Thinkbox chief executive Lindsay Clay and Leila Siddiqi who is head of diversity at the IPA.

Last month, Channel 4 become an exclusive partner to Pride in London, airing a series of TV ads to mark 50 years since homosexuality was first legalised in the UK.

Rebecca Stewart

Rebecca Stewart is a reporter at The Drum. Based in London, she writes news, analysis and features around brand marketing and digital innovation. She has interviewed key figures from the likes of Airbnb, Amnesty International, Unilever, Facebook and Spotify, as well as covering international events like Ad Week Europe, Dmexco and Ciclope.

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