Channel 4 focuses on LGBT+ representation for latest diversity in advertising award

Channel 4 ups the ante in LGBT+ ad representation with diversity awards

Channel 4 is championing inclusiveness with the resumption of an awards programme which seeks to challenge stereotyping and increase the representation of LGBT+ communities in advertising.

The Diversity in Advertising Award challenges brands and agencies to come together with novel campaigns to promote minorities without resorting to tokenism, with £1m worth of free commercial airtime up for grabs to the winning entry.

In addition £250k of match-funding will be provided to four runners up to make their campaigns a reality.

The broadcaster has focused on this area after commissioning a study into the diversity (or lack thereof) within British commercials. Of 1,000 ads covered by the study LGBT+ individuals featured in just 3%, despite making up 6% of the population, with those that did often being portrayed in a stereotypical or negative manner – including ‘butch’ lesbians and ‘camp’ gay men.

Follow-up surveys of 2,000 adults found that despite such omissions the wider population guessed that around 22% of ads included members of the LGBT+ community when asked but with 60% agreeing that individuals were too often handed tokenistic roles on the occasions where they were selected.

Matt Salmon, Channel 4’s head of agency and client sales, said: “Our study, and the focus groups we conducted alongside it, showed that despite the lip service paid to diversity, there’s still a long way to go before we have authentic representation in television ads.

“Channel 4 is determined to drive change in this area and we particularly want to challenge advertisers to up their game in the representation of people from the LGBT+ community.”

Past iterations of the competition have focused on different areas of diversity such as disability, mental health and the portrayal of women in the media.

Last year's competition was won by the Royal Air Force, with creative from Engine, juxtaposing stereotypes of a male-dominated profession with the depiction of female pilots.

Entries for this year’s awards are now open.

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