Channel 4 challenges brands to authentically represent BAME culture in £1m diversity award

The broadcaster’s annual award is focused on ethnic diversity after new research found UK advertising does not reflect different cultures well.

Channel 4 is challenging advertisers to authentically represent Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups as it launches its diversity award.

The broadcaster’s Diversity in Advertising Award is in its fifth year and in 2020 it wants to tackle racial stereotypes in advertising. The brand that best responds to the broadcaster’s brief will receive £1m of free airtime.

The focus on BAME culture comes amid new research from the company that surveyed 1,000 people (500 BAME and 500 white). It reveals that more than half (51%) of BAME people say current TV advertising does not represent different cultures well, while 10% says there is no representation at all.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of BAME people say that current TV advertising does not represent Black and brown culture well (vs 41% of white people), with 12% saying there is no representation at all.

As well as it being important to represent all UK cultures, more accurate representation engenders people to brands. Two-thirds (64%) of BAME people say they would feel more positive about any brand that showcases different cultures in its advertising, with only 3% saying they would feel more negative.

It also found that 49% of white people would feel more positive to brands that represent cultures, with just 4% saying they would feel more negative.

This year’s competition is part of Channel 4’s six-point commitment to drive anti-racism in the creative industries and improve Black and minority ethnic representation.

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Channel 4’s sales director, Matt Salmon, says: “We know the term BAME is imperfect, covering a range of different experiences, and that the issues of representation and inclusion for different BAME communities are not homogenous.

“However, the lack of authenticity and mis-representation in the portrayal of BAME cultures in TV advertising is universal and our research shows that the industry isn’t moving fast enough on this issue.”

Every year, Channel 4’s award focuses on a different area of diversity to encourage the ad industry to create inclusive creative campaigns.

Previous winners have focused on disability (Maltesers), mental health (Lloyds Bank), the portrayal of women in the media (RAF) and the lack of representation and stereotyping of the LGBT+ community (Starbucks).

A diverse panel of judges will award the £1m prize to the brand and agency considered to have pitched the strongest campaign idea. In addition, the panel will select five runners up, which will be offered £250,000 of match-funded commercial airtime by Channel 4.

Competition entries must be submitted by midnight on 30 September. The winner and runners up will be announced in November with the campaign airing on Channel 4 in early 2021.



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