Tena awarded Channel 4’s sixth diversity in advertising prize

This year Channel 4 invited advertisers to address issues relating to ageism, in particular the inauthentic and sometimes clichéd portrayals of different age groups within current UK advertising.

Incontinence brand Tena has scooped Channel 4’s annual Diversity in Advertising Award, winning with a pitch for a campaign that educates viewers about the realities of the menopause.

Devised and pitched alongside creative agency AMV BBDO, the campaign has won £1m of free advertising on Channel 4 and, new for the 2021 edition of the award, an additional £100,000 bespoke social media campaign created by the broadcaster’s in-house digital content team, 4Studio. Both elements are expected to launch early next year.

This sixth edition of the competition invited advertisers to address issues relating to ageism, in particular the inauthentic and sometimes clichéd portrayals of different age groups. Channel 4’s 2020 ‘Mirror on the Industry’ research found only 29% of ads last year featured characters over the age of 50, and just 12% of them were cast in lead roles.

The Advertising Association’s recent All In census also revealed a disparity in the ages of those who work in the UK advertising industry, with minimal representation of over-55s.

Tena’s entry was deemed the best by a judging panel, following an entry process with the highest number of entrants for three years. The panel included The Marketing Society’s CEO Sophie Devonshire, Channel 4’s chief marketing officer Zaid Al-Qassab, the IPA’s associate director of diversity Leila Siddiqi and ISBA’s head of media and diversity and inclusion lead, Bobi Carley.

Tena’s global brand and communications director, Meta Redstedt, says the brand has made it its “mission” to challenge negative representations of female ageing and in this campaign hopes to “redefine” what it means to be a woman going through the menopause.

“With Channel 4’s partnership, we’ll inspire change in households across the nation, creating an important and new cultural narrative for the menopause,” she adds. Why brands are underestimating the cultural power of older women

Online mattress brand Eve Sleep and its agency Creature London were highly commended by the judges for their pitch, while other runners up included Hidden Hearing (with The Sharp Agency), Baileys (with VMLY&R), Shelter (with Who Wot Why) and Boots (again with VMLY&R).

The five runners up will be offered match funding of up to £250,000 each to encourage all the campaigns to be produced.

“The Diversity In Advertising Award is a testament to Channel 4’s commitment to ensure representation and inclusion remain a priority across all of our output above and beyond our editorial content,” says the broadcaster’s chief revenue officer, Verica Djurdjevic.

“It’s so important that we keep challenging perceptions and encourage better representation and authenticity in advertising.”

Channel 4 launched the award in 2016 to encourage the ad industry to embrace inclusive creative campaigns. Previous winners have focused on disability (Maltesers), mental health (Lloyds Bank), the portrayal of women (RAF), the LGBTQ+ community (Starbucks), and black, Asian and minority ethnic culture (EA Sports)

Last year, Tena won the Marketing Week Masters 2020 award for brand innovation with the launch of Silhouette Noir, the first black incontinence underwear, which it positioned as a premium lifestyle brand for younger women in a bid to smash the stigma of incontinence and change perceptions of the category.