Channel 4’s industry leading £1m Diversity in Advertising Award has returned for 2021, challenging the advertising industry to address the inauthentic and sometimes clichéd portrayals of different age groups within UK advertising.
As the UK’s youngest skewing broadcaster, Channel 4 knows the youth audience inside out – so you might be surprised that this year we’re asking you to think about the representation of different age groups – including the older generations. But, don’t forget, this is all about portrayal, not targeting, so we’re looking for brands to modernise their representation all age groups, and educate our audience and the wider population about the realities of being young, old, or anywhere inbetween!
The winning campaign will be a world-class creative idea (*see previous winning campaigns*) which features a specific age group at its heart, and representing people of that age group in a modern, authentic and non-stereotyped way.
We also want brands to include some element of intersectionality of age with another protected characteristic, such as gender, sexuality, disability or ethnicity.
If you saw our Diversity Award Masterclass, you’ll have seen that we announced new research which found TV adverts in the UK to be primarily focussed on younger characters. Older people are often left out with 29% featuring characters over the age of 50 and only 12% of them cast in lead roles.
It also found that age representation differed between genders. Male characters are more likely to be older, while women are younger and often used for brand building. Older women meanwhile feel they are more likely to be portrayed in a stereotypical way.
The Advertising Association’s recent All In census revealed a disparity in the ages of those who work in the UK advertising industry, with minimal representation of either the under 25s or over 55s.
The award has always offered a headline prize of £1million of Channel 4 ad space, across our linear and VOD platforms. In 2021, for the first time, the prize is expanding to include an additional £100k value social campaign from our award-winning in house social agency 4Studio, which will include in-house production of the social asset and media value across our social platforms.
As with prior years, our five non-winning shortlist will also be offered up to £250k of match funded commercial ad space for the pitched campaigns, meaning the potential total prize pot for 2021 exceeds £2million.
This website contains all the information, criteria, deadlines and entry guidance you need for the competition – however please do direct any further questions to 4Sales@Channel4.co.uk
In the shortlisting process, the judges will consider the following six criteria;
- Prominence of age as a focus and the inclusion of intersectionality
This year, the award is seeking to improve representation of age within UK advertising – so we’re expecting your idea to prominently feature a specific age group as part of the campaign execution, and the creative should challenge a misrepresentation/stereotype, or seek to educate on a reality for that age group. We’re also asking for each campaign to feature an element of intersectionality of age with another protected characteristic, such as ethnicity, sexuality or disability.
- Clarity, impact and uniqueness of the creative idea
The idea for your campaign should be articulated clearly and concisely. We need to clearly understand what the TV ad might look like, what viewers are expected to take away from it and how your specific product/service is being communicated authentically within the creative. As with any advertisement, creative concepts which feel fresh, innovative and grab audiences attention are welcomed.
- Creative inspiration and development
It has been proven that diverse representation behind the scenes and substantial engagement with the communities featured during concept development will lead to more authentic portrayals of people in advertising. The judges would like to understand how your entry has been conceived and developed, what engagement you have undertaken with the community you are representing, and whether your project team is inclusive of people from a range of diverse backgrounds. Highlighting any key insight that has informed your creative execution is welcomed.
- Performance against brand objectives
The Diversity In Advertising Award exists to encourage better representation of diverse communities within mainstream advertising. However, for this to become long-lasting change, we want to see this inclusion in the context of a successful marketing campaign – and as such, your campaign idea must set out to achieve your specific brand marketing objectives, just like any other marketing campaign you run would. Please also detail how you think the concept will deliver successful results for your brand.
- Feasibility and fit with the media context
The winning ad will feature in national linear TV airtime, across our video-on-demand service and also on our social platforms. The £1m+ prize covers media value, but not production for the main ad executions. Therefore, the judges will need to understand whether the advertisement concept is feasible for you to produce, and whether it is likely to pass all the legal and compliance requirements to be able to play on air. For example, ideas which require specific talent involvement should address the feasibility of securing said talent. Plus, the judges will be considering whether Channel 4 and its audience provides an appropriate home for this messaging.
- Legacy and Amplification
The pitched idea needs to be a core 30-second spot, but additional amplification ideas around a longer-launch spot or different spot lengths are welcomed. Additionally, the judges would like to see some consideration of how the campaign could be enhanced to live beyond the initial TV spot(s), and how the campaign and subject matter might be reflected in your organisations broader culture and values.
For further information, or if you have any questions or queries, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To help get you started with the award, we’ve pulled together some useful reading materials – and also our judges and prior winners have put together a video of useful tips, advice and thoughts on why you should enter…
Useful resources, articles & reading materials
Please note, these materials are supplied purely as a useful starter resource and are published here without any direction on how they should be used. It is not a condition of the award that these articles, or any views contained within, should be included in your entry. Equally, you are free to include insight, opinion and guidance sourced elsewhere from this list in your entry instead.
Ageism: The ad industrys last taboo:
How do you solve a problem like... ageism in the marketing business?:
Ageism in advertising: Serve my interests, not your lazy profiles:
How Ads Do a Terrible Job Portraying Older Adults:
The 2021 Diversity In Advertising Award is now open for entries. Here are the key dates and guide to the entry process…
Entries Opening Date – Thursday 15th July
Entry Closing Date – Thursday 26th August at 4pm
Shortlist Announcement – Thursday 16th September
Pitch Day – Thursday 14th October
Winner Announced – Thursday 28th October
Campaign on air – Q2, 2022
Entrants will be required to submit a (max) 2-page PDF document outlining their idea. The format and contents of this PDF are entirely open for the entrants to determine, but in the past some entrants have submitted scripts, storyboards, or simply descriptions of the advert itself.
We advise entrants to ensure their PDF entry considers each of the criteria published elsewhere on this website. The PDF will need to be submitted to this website alongside some additional entry data, including the name and email of a senior person at the featured client who has approved the involvement of their brand in your entry.
You cannot submit entries without the explicit permission and support of the brand featured.
Following the closing date, a Channel 4 shortlisting panel will judge the initial PDF entries against the 6 published criteria to establish a shortlist of up to 6 campaigns who will then progress to the second stage of the award competition.
Each shortlisted entrant will be invited to develop their campaign further, taking account of any specific feedback from the shortlisting panel, and pitch their finalised campaign idea to the main judging panel.
Each pitch will have a maximum of 10 minutes to present, followed by 10 minutes of questions from the judges. The pitches will be held as part of Channel 4’s ‘Plannertarium’ event, in front of the main judging panel, and 40 event delegates – mostly junior members of the media buying community. The judging panel will make their winner decision alone, but may ask for input from the event delegates as part of their considerations.
We are delighted to have the following experts making up our 2021 judging panel;
Veriça Djurdjevic, Chief Revenue Officer, Channel 4 (Chair of judges)
Zaid Al-Qassab, Chief Marketing Officer, Channel 4
Leila Siddiqi, Associate Director, Diversity, IPA
Gideon Spanier, UK Editor-in-chief, Campaign
Bobi Carley, Head of Media & Diversity and Inclusion Lead, ISBA
Sophie Devonshire, CEO, The Marketing Society
Sharon Lloyd-Barnes, Commercial Director, Advertising Association
Lindsey Clay, CEO, Thinkbox
Chris Meredith, CEO, Greys Matter
Sian Blackman, Senior Accounts Manager, Diversity Standards Collective
Further judges will be added in due course
For further information, or if you have any questions or queries, please email us at email@example.com
The Channel 4 Diversity In Advertising Award offers an annual £1 million airtime prize for a brand who best responds to our creative brief encouraging greater representation of diverse communities in advertising.
The award is an established industry scheme designed to encourage greater and more authentic representation of diverse UK communities through mainstream UK television advertising. The importance of doing this is two-fold;
• Research shows that diverse communities feel like they aren’t accurately or sufficiently represented on screen in UK advertising.
• Omitting diverse communities from advertising means that non-diverse communities are not exposed to a true reflection of the multicultural society we live in.
Since 2016, Channel 4 has sought to encourage the UK advertising community to be more inclusive in their campaigns by awarding an annual £1million airtime prize. The prize is awarded to the brand who best responds to our revolving brief to create an advertisement which promotes their product/service in a manner which authentically represents a specific diverse community.
Whilst the winning brand receives a £1million advertising campaign for their commercial, Channel 4 also offers to match-fund (up to £250k limit each) the other shortlisted entries – with the motivation being to get as many representative campaigns on air as possible.
The overall ambition of the award is to get more representative advertising campaigns on air and encourage greater inclusive thinking within the creative process behind the campaigns.
In 2016, the year of the Rio Paralympics, the award focused on the representation of disabled people in advertising, with the winner being Maltesers, who created a series of adverts featuring characters with various visible disabilities.
In 2017, the focus turned to non-visible disabilities, and the airtime was awarded to a Lloyds Bank campaign which depicted numerous mental health conditions including anxiety and depression.
2018 was a year where #MeToo, Gender Pay Gaps and a centennial celebration of some women’s right to vote was high in the public’s consciousness, so focus turned to the representation of women in advertising, as gender stereotyping was found to be a huge issue. The Royal Air Force won the competition, with a female recruitment ad that turned gender stereotyping on its head.
In 2019, a large Channel 4 research project identified LGBT+ communities as those who experience the most stereotyping and under-representation within advertising. Starbucks were the ultimate winner of the award, with a creative execution that portrayed the experiences of a trans character.
In 2020, against the background of the BLM movement and the rise of covid-linked hate crime against Asian populations, our attention turned to the representation and portrayal of ethnicity on screen. The award challenged brands to explore the representation of a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic community in UK culture and was won by a pitch from EA Sports for their FIFA 2021 product.
For further information, or if you have any questions or queries, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Competition Terms and Conditions of Entry
- The competition opens at 11am Thursday 15th July 2021 and closes at 4:00pm on Thursday 26th August 2021.
- Terms that are capitalised but not defined in these terms and conditions shall have the meaning given to them in Channel 4’s Airtime Terms and Conditions or Digital and On Demand Advertising Terms and Conditions, as applicable.
- The main prize is £1.1 million (net) of advertising space across Channel 4’s portfolio of products; £1 million of Airtime and digital/VOD Advertising, and £100,000 of social media value, made up of £20,000 in Channel 4 social production from our in-house social team 4Studio and £80,000 of media value across Channel 4’s Facebook, Instagram and YouTube Channels.
- The Prize of Airtime and digital and VOD Advertising is to be split and decided by Channel 4.
- The Prize is excluded from any existing share or volume expenditure commitments with Channel 4.
- Up to five shortlisted entries will be offered the opportunity to secure match funding to get their entries on air during the Campaign Period. Channel 4 will match-fund airtime and digital and VOD Advertising investments up to £250,000 and over with Airtime and digital and VOD Advertising to the value of £250,000 (the “Match Fund Prizes”). Investments below £250,000 will be matched with the entrant’s total investment. Investments above £250,000 will only be matched by a maximum £250,000 of value. To qualify for a Match Fund Prize, the investment must be excluded from any existing share or volume expenditure commitments with Channel 4.
- The Prize and the Match Fund Prizes (together, “prizes”) are redeemable across the Channel 4 Portfolio between 1st May 2022 and 31st June 2022 (the “Campaign Period”). There is the potential, at Channel 4’s sole discretion, for these dates to be flexible, pending negotiation with 4Sales.
- No cash equivalent prizes are available.
- Any reimbursement or payment of production costs for the winning entries are not included in the Prize or the Match Fund Prize and are the responsibility of the winning entrants (excluding the £20,000 4Studio social production for the winning entry).
- Agency commission will not be payable on any of the media value.
- By entering the competition, you are committed to producing an advertisement that reflects your winning entry. Channel 4 will require regular contact and review sessions to ensure the creative concept being produced is true to the winning entry.
- All entries must comply with all applicable advertising industry laws and regulations.
- In order to be eligible for the competition, a written entry of no more than two pages in length must be submitted with business contact details on www.4sales.com/diversityaward before the deadline of 4pm on 26th August 2021. Entries must also include, where applicable, client contact details so Channel 4 can verify that the entry is client-backed.
- Only entrants who are in the following categories may enter: media, advertising and creative agencies, entering with explicit backing of the client; and brand marketing teams.
- VOD or broadcast competitors of Channel 4 are not permitted to enter nor have their brand entered by a third party.
- All entries must feature main advertisement copy with a 30-60 second time-length.
- All entries should be suitable to run in all dayparts or have a pitched version able to run in all dayparts, and the position in break will be natural delivery.
- The Main Prize of Airtime, digital/VOD Advertising and social media value will be booked at the absolute discretion of Channel 4. Notwithstanding the above, Channel 4 will try to plan efficiently for the winning brands’ target audiences, against the Airtime and digital/VOD Advertising space only.
- The Prize must be fully redeemed within the Campaign Period. Any remaining value left after this time may be lost.
- The main Prize-winning advertisement will launch on the Channel 4 main service from 1st May 2022. The winning advertisement must premiere on our Channels exclusively. Once premiered, the advertisement can be run on other non-broadcaster platforms with Channel 4’s written agreement.
- At Channel 4’s request, winning advertisements must include a Diversity in Advertising Award logo credit on any endboards when they are broadcast on the Channels, as well as any other media activity during the Campaign Period.
- The Match Fund Prizes value will also be spread across the Channels at Channel 4’s discretion and must be fully redeemed within the Campaign Period. Any remaining value left after this time may be lost.
- All prizes are awarded at Channel 4's discretion. Channel 4 and/or the competition judges (acting reasonably) reserve the right not to select a winner or shortlist any entries, and/or to remove or amend selection criteria and/or the structure and operation of the competition if entries are not of the requisite standard.
- Judging of the entries will be based on the creativity and originality of a creative concept that features a specific age group at its heart, and represents people of that age group in a modern, authentic and non-stereotyped way, however the judges are looking for entries that still fulfil a brand's core advertising brief. Full judging criteria can be found here 4sales.com/diversityaward
- The prizes are awarded to the selected winning ideas, brand and creative agency. The prizes cannot be transferred to a different campaign concept, or to a different brand or creative agency.
- In the unlikely event that Channel 4 believes the advertisement produced does not match the concept of the original winning pitch, Channel 4 reserves the right to withdraw the applicable prize.
- Entrants understand that any information in the entries marked specifically as confidential will be seen only by the shortlisting and judging panels and competition organisers. Information contained in the finalists’ pitches highlighted specifically as confidential will only be seen by the judging panel, the extended judging panel and competition organisers. Please make sure to clearly identify which specific elements of your entry are confidential, otherwise they may be treated as non-confidential. Other non-confidential information about the entries may be used by Channel 4 in the promotion of this activity. However, rights in entries and the right to produce the campaign ideas remain with the entrants.
- After the closing date, the eligible entries will be short-listed by a panel of Channel 4 employees to no more than six finalists.
- The judging will take place at Channel 4’s annual ‘Plannertarium’ event on Thursday 14th October 2021, with the shortlisted parties asked to present their ideas in front of the judging panel and a group of 40 junior advertising professionals from across the industry.
- The judging decision is made entirely by the main judging panel, but following completion of the pitches they will ask for feedback from the 40 event attendees to help guide their decision. The judges will retire, confer in private and make the decision alone.
- The judging session takes place at the Vineyard Hotel in Newbury, on the afternoon of 14th October 2021. If Government advice changes with regards to Coronavirus restrictions, we will act accordingly and notify entrants of any changes to location.
- Inability to attend the judging session will result in disqualification of the entry.
- The winner of the Prize will be notified and publicly announced by Thursday 28th October 2021. At this stage, the details of the winning campaign will not be revealed. The unsuccessful shortlist entrants will also be notified on Thursday 28th October and will be offered the Match Fund Prizes.
- Any press releases referring to the competition or the campaigns pitched as part of the process must be discussed with and approved by the Channel 4 press office before publication.
- By prior arrangement with the organisers (email 4Sales@Channel4.co.uk) late entries will be accepted until 1pm on Friday 27th August 2021.
- Channel 4 reserves the right to amend the competition rules during the judging process if the chair of the judging panel deems it necessary. In this event, Channel 4 will notify all entrants of the change and will publish the updated rules on the competition website www.4sales.com/diversityaward.
- The judges’ decisions are final.
For any questions on these terms, please email email@example.com
Watch our Diversity In Advertising 2021 Masterclass for hints, tips and advice from judges and previous winners on entering! Plus, hear about our brand new findings from our award winning Mirror On The Industry research project used to shape this year's theme.