‘What does being black mean to you?’: Nubian Skin wins TfL’s ad diversity prize

The hosiery brand has been given £500,000 worth of ad space on the TfL network for a campaign it hopes will show black people in a more positive and natural light.

Hosiery brand Nubian Skin has won TfL and City Hall’s Diversity in Advertising competition for its campaign challenging assumptions around the word ‘nude’ in the fashion industry.

‘A Different Kind of Nude’ won the six-year-old brand £500,000-worth of prominent advertising space on the TfL network. It was chosen for its bold and inclusive imagery that embraced a range of ages and body types as well as skin tones.

Speaking to Marketing Week at the ad’s unveiling at Canary Wharf this morning (10 February), Nubian Skin’s founder and CEO Ade Hassan said she hopes the campaign will show black people in a more positive and natural light.

I hope this helps to open up the conversation and people see what being black is – as something a little bit less one-dimensional.

Ade Hassan, Nubian Skin

“A lot of the time in advertising, and in media, it can be quite stereotypical in what’s portrayed, especially with black men and women,” Hassan explained.

“Hopefully this will show people in a more positive and natural light. Black people are the same as everybody else, in so far as the joy and complexities of what being black means to them, what being a person means to them. I hope this helps to open up the conversation and people see what being black is – as something a little bit less one-dimensional.”

The creative, which was developed and shot by an in-house team, poses the question: ‘What does being black mean to you?’, which Hassan hopes people will engage with on social media.

She also hopes the ad industry will take note and think about how it can better represent black and ethnic minorities in future.

“As a black woman I can pull from my experience and put that into a campaign,” Hassan said. “If you have a team that doesn’t have any black people or ethnic minorities on it, it is going to be hard to portray them in a way that is natural because you’re not pulling from experience.

“Having people who are from ethnic minority backgrounds in decision-making positions is incredibly important. Especially when it comes to portrayal.”

Now in its second year, TfL and City Hall’s diversity in advertising competition is designed to tackle tokenism, combat stereotypes and make advertising in London more representative.

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Working with TfL’s media partners Global and JCDecaux UK, this year’s competition called on brands to create adverts that offered authentic portrayals of London’s black and minority ethnic communities.

Research carried out by Lloyds Banking Group in 2018 revealed 34% of black people and 30% of people from mixed ethnic backgrounds felt they were inaccurately portrayed in advertising.

Following entries from brands and advertising agencies, the submissions were reviewed by a panel of judges comprised of advertising and media industry experts, and City Hall and TfL representatives. The judges were specifically looking for a campaign to act as a catalyst to change perceptions and drive change in the industry.

Community football programme Grassroots for Good was awarded the runner-up prize of up to £50,000 worth of digital advertising space for a campaign celebrating the power of grassroots sport. It will go on display across the TfL network later this year.