Channel 4: ‘Diversity sells and we’ve proved it’

Channel 4 says brands that include a more diverse range of people in their advertising will see a sales uplift, citing Mars’s commercial success after winning its Superhumans Wanted competition.

Channel 4 claims Mars saw positive sales results after winning its Superhumans Wanted competition and producing three ads that championed diversity and disability.

The broadcaster launched the competition earlier this year, offering the winning brand £1m of commercial airtime throughout the Rio Paralympics. Every pitch had to prominently feature disabled talent and issues. Channel 4 expected between 20 and 30 applicants, but saw nearly 100 brands and agencies enter the competition.

Maltesers won the pitch, and subsequently released three ads that had disability and diversity at their heart. According to Dan Brooke, chief marketing and communications officer at Channel 4, the Mars-owned brand saw positive results after airing the ads. While he couldn’t detail the sales effect, he said Mars saw an “extremely close” correlation between how its advertising tested and sales.

“They said these commercials featuring disabled people tested better than any other advertising it had tested in the last six years. So guess what, diversity does sell and we’ve proved that,” he explained during a Westminster Media Forum event today (8 November).

“But all the applicants said the same thing. Even if they didn’t win, they said we had opened their minds to a new subject and that they would consider featuring disabled people in their advertising going forward.”

Nevertheless, Brooke argued there is still more to do. He is hoping to drill down further into diversity by looking at visible, non-visible and fluctuating impairments to ensure Channel 4 is making progress. The broadcaster is also looking to explore mental health within the business.

We’ve learnt that although disability is one simple collective noun, it is actually 20 to 30 different impairment types all of which are different and unique.

Dan Brooke, chief marketing and communications officer at Channel 4

“And that’s not to mention the social barrier to mental health disclosure which in our experience remains an enormous elephant in the room,” he explained.

The second area of interest is social mobility, which Brooke claimed is steadily being explored by the media industry and the government. Channel 4 is currently conducting research with the London School of Economics to analyse the socio-economic make-up of its work force.

Brooke concluded: “I don’t underestimate how hard it will be to change on these fronts, but you shouldn’t underestimate our determination to do so. Culture is often intangible, which is why it can be hard to shift the dial, but we can.”

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