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.”
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.