The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Lgbt+ Advertising Channel 4

Starbucks edges Screwfix to win Channel 4 LGBT+ advertising airtime worth £1m


By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

September 24, 2019 | 4 min read

Channel 4's annual celebration of diversity in advertising has awarded £1m of free TV ad airtime to Starbucks and its creative agency, Iris for their efforts to tackle stereotyping of the LGBT+ community on TV.

Business on the move

Channel 4 awards £1m Diversity In Advertising prize to Starbucks and Iris

The Diversity in Advertising Award will see £1m worth of commercial advertising launch on Channel 4 from February 2020.

Starbucks trumped Screwfix and Wavemaker's campaign on LGBT+ workers in the construction industry to the top spot. Also in the thick of it was Virgin Media and Adam&Eve, Snickers and AMV BBDO, Calm and Adam&Eve, Coca Cola and Epoch Design, and and Adam&Eve. It will match fund the runner-up campaigns with commercial airtime worth £250,000.

It is the fourth year of the awards. This year LGBT+ was selected as the theme, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Recent research from C4 found that visible LGBT+ plus people featured in 3% of UK ads despite making up at least 6% of the population.

Jonathan Allan, Channel 4 chief commercial officer, said: “When it comes to LGBT+ representation in advertising, visibility has increased but as our research finds, LGBT+ people are still underrepresented or portrayed negatively. That is why this ground-breaking campaign by Starbucks stood out and we can’t wait to work with them to bring their winning idea to air.

“As all the pitches were so strong, we’re particularly excited this year to work alongside all the other shortlisted brands to further help LGBT+ representation in commercial airtime and we’re hoping that as many as possible take advantage of our £250k match funding offer."

Neil Littler, Starbucks' marketing and product director, added: “Starbucks is proud to have a long history of creating inclusive and welcoming places for the LGBT+ community. We have collaborated with Iris London on a creative campaign that tells a powerful story for the LGBT+ community and furthers a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity in our stores. We are honored to win this award and look forward to telling our story on Channel 4.”

Grant Hunter, Iris’ executive creative director, Europe, outlined that such initiatives are important in the "challenging cultural climate, with evidence of intolerance against the LGBT+ community on the rise".

There is work still to be done, Channel 4 recently made a harrowing ad outlining vile viewer responses to its previous inclusive ad winners which featured differently able people, people of colour and same sex-kisses on mainstream TV. More broadly it's even had its stars confront the abuse they receive in an unmissable TV ad.

Last year’s award was won by the RAF and creative agency Engine for their campaign which challenged the portrayal of women in advertising. Previous competitions have focused on disability (Maltesers and Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO) and mental health (Lloyds Bank and Adam&Eve/DBB).

For any brands looking to enter the mix next year, The Drum has compiled a guide on how to win the prestigious fund.

Lgbt+ Advertising Channel 4

More from Lgbt+

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +