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Channel 4’s ‘Diversity in Advertising’ competition has returned for the third year, this time asking advertisers to focus on how women are portrayed.

The initiative offers £1m of free airtime to any advertiser who best responds to a brief set by the broadcaster. In 2016 it was the representation of disability, won by Mars, and then non-visible disabilities which was won by Lloyds Bank in 2017.  

In light of the #MeToo movement, the centenary of the right to vote and the focus on gender pay gaps, Channel 4 said it wanted ad creatives to create campaigns which “challenge engrained stereotypes, objectification and sexualisation of women”.

A recent study found that there are twice as many male characters in adverts than female characters and that when women do appear, they are most likely to be younger (in their 20s, compared to men who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s).

“There are campaigns already on our screens which represent women in a positive and appropriate manner – but sadly there just aren’t enough of them,” said Channel 4’s head of agency and client sales and commercial marketing Matt Salmon. 

“This year we’re looking for an ad that really stands out even from the positive ads we’ve seen before. We want a campaign that’s a beacon for the issue, an idea that calls out the challenges and makes a really positive statement to our audiences.

“The winning ad shouldn’t be representative of what the future ‘norm’ should be, it should act as a catalyst for the change in mindset we’d like to see within the industry.”

The deadline for this year’s entries is 9 July 2018. A shortlist will be announced on 17 July before the winner is announced in September and the campaign will be on air in early 2019.