EA Sports scoops £1m Channel 4 diversity prize

Games publisher EA Sports has won the broadcaster’s £1m Diversity in Advertising Award, which this year is focused on the authentic portrayal of UK BAME cultures in advertising.

EA Sports
FIFA 2021 publisher EA Sports has won Channel 4’s diversity in advertising prize.

EA Sports has been named the winner of Channel 4’s 2020 Diversity in Advertising Award, which is focused on the authentic portrayal of UK BAME cultures in advertising.

The games publisher, together with its creative agency adam&eveDDB, has won £1m of commercial airtime and will launch its winning campaign on Channel 4 in 2021.

Lloyds Bank was awarded a ‘highly commended’ accolade, alongside £350,000 of free advertising airtime. Runners-up Boots, #MerkyBooks, the Royal Navy and Tesco have been awarded up to £250,000 of match-funded airtime, reflecting Channel 4’s ambition to encourage as many of the pitched ideas to make it to air as possible.

“Bringing authentic football stories and experiences to life for millions of FIFA players is in our DNA,” say EA Sports FIFA partnerships activation associate, Sameena Ramsden and FIFA marcoms activation manager, Sola Kasali.

“We work to celebrate, support and challenge ourselves and our partners to ensure the rich diversity we see in our own player communities is reflected as broadly as possible in all forms of football. Winning this award alongside adam&eveDDB gives us a fantastic opportunity to share those stories with the Channel 4 audience.”

The winner was decided by a panel of judges including Channel 4 CMO Zaid Al-Qassab, Thinkbox CEO Lindsey Clay and ISBA head of media and diversity and inclusion lead, Bobi Carley.

“We created the £1m Diversity in Advertising award to inspire lasting change in the industry’s approach to the representation of diverse groups in advertising and we’ve seen the many benefits of this through previous winners’ campaigns,” says Channel 4 sales director and chair of the judges, Matt Salmon.

“EA Sports are deserving winners of this year’s prize and we really hope each of the runners-up takes advantage of our significant match-funding offer to bring their entries to life.”

Fellow judge Lydia Amoah, diversity consultant and author of The Black Pound Report, adds: “It was a real privilege to be part of the judging process for a category that means so much and also requires greater representation. Being able to steer the wheel towards the greatest storytelling of Black, Asian and Multi Ethnic culture is a positive step forward for Channel 4 and the audiences that will view this powerful content.”

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The theme of the 2020 award was chosen after research, commissioned by 4Sales, found the authentic portrayal of people from all BAME communities, their backgrounds, lives and cultures was universally lacking in TV advertising.

The award forms part of the broadcaster’s six-point anti-racism pledge, set out in June, which includes a commitment to become an anti-racist organisation and wider promise to commission relevant and authentic content that reflects the lives of BAME audiences on an ongoing basis.

Since then, Channel 4 has teamed up with the UK’s major supermarkets on an ad break takeover taking a stand against racism following the backlash to Sainsbury’s Christmas campaign. Bespoke messaging explained to viewers that the grocers had “put their usual festive rivalries aside” as a show of solidarity with Channel 4 in the fight against racism.

Now in its fifth instalment, Channel 4’s Diversity in Advertising competition focuses on a different area of diversity each year in a bid to encourage the ad industry to embrace inclusive creative campaigns.

Last year’s winner Starbucks collaborated with creative agency Iris on a campaign to address the lack of representation and stereotyping of the LGBT+ community in advertising. Based on real life experiences, the advert portrayed a transgender person trialling their new name in a Starbucks store.