E45 wins Channel 4’s diversity in advertising award

Entrants to this year’s award were challenged to authentically represent LGBTQIA+ people in their ads, with the brief producing “probably the strongest set of entries” in its seven year history.

Skincare brand E45 has won Channel 4’s Diversity in Advertising award, and has vowed to use the money awarded to produce work that will “drive long term, positive change in public attitudes” towards LGBTQIA+ communities. 

The campaign, devised with agency The&Partnership, will now be awarded £1m worth of advertising space across Channel 4’s portfolio. Additionally, it will receive £100,000 worth of social media spending, consisting of £40,000 worth of social production from Channel 4’s digital content creation department, 4Studio, and £60,000 worth of exposure on the broadcaster’s media channels.

In a statement announcing the award, Sally Perry, global skin health category director at E45 owner Karo Healthcare, says: “E45’s mission is to help people feel comfortable in their skin and we hope that we can drive long term, positive change in public attitudes with this work. Thanks to our LGBTQIA+ team and allies at The&Partnership for their commitment and passion. Watch this space.”

The competition, designed to promote advertising that is truly representative of diverse communities, has been running since 2016. This year, participants were challenged to authentically represent LGBTQIA+ communities in their pitches.

Channel 4 decided on the theme after it carried out research with 4Sales, which found UK brands had stepped back from portraying these communities in their advertising due to fear of backlash.

Brands’ approach to LGBTQ+ marketing tested after backlashes

Previous themes have included tackling ageism, authentic Black, Asian and ethnic minority representation, and pushing back against sexist tropes. Last year’s winner was cleaning brand Vanish and its agency Havas London. Vanish pitched a campaign that sought to spark a conversation about autism in girls, responding to a challenge to represent visible and non-visible disabilities in advertising.

This year, the competition saw “probably the strongest set of entries” it has ever had, says Channel 4 chief revenue officer and Diversity in Advertising Award chair, Veriça Djurdjevic.

“The brands and their agencies gave the judging panel a wonderful problem, but E45 and The&Partnership just edged it. I can’t wait to see their campaign on air, and to see the impact it has,” she says.

The 12 judges consisted of leaders from the advertising industry and people from the LGBTQIA+ community. Panellists included members of Outvertising, charity Not a Phase and Channel 4’s own staff network 4Pride. It also included returning judges from the Advertising Association, the IPA, Thinkbox, ISBA, and 4Creative.

There were six shortlisted entries for the judges to choose from.

These entries came from vodka brand Absolut, vehicle services business The AA, condom maker Durex, period care company Bodyform and tights brand Snag, as well as winner, E45.

These shortlisted brands have been offered the opportunity to secure match funding to get their entries on air. Channel 4 will match-fund airtime and digital and video-on-demand advertising investments up to £250,000.

Djurdjevic says the judging panel were “passionate” about seeing each of the shortlisted entries on air.