Channel 4

Campaign podcast: Why are disabled people still so poorly represented in ads?

With Channel 4’s Diversity in Advertising Award turning the focus back on to disability this year – both visible and invisible – some of the judges discuss how brands can do better.

Maltesers 'New boyfriend' ad won Channel 4's inaugural Diversity in Advertising Award
Maltesers 'New boyfriend' ad won Channel 4's inaugural Diversity in Advertising Award

Despite 22% of the UK population being disabled, only 4% of UK TV ads featured disabled people in 2021. Progress is slow, with representation only increasing from 3% of TV ads in the previous year.

Campaign media editor Arvind Hickman is joined by Ade Adepitan, broadcaster and wheelchair basketball player, Steven Lacey, owner of The Outsiders marketing agency, and Bobi Carley, head of media and diversity and inclusion lead at ISBA, to discuss why the representation of disabled people in advertising is still so low.

All are judges in this year's Channel 4 Diversity in Advertising Award.

Talk ranges from why disability lags behind ethnicity and race when it comes to diversity in ads and brands might shy away from disability, to lived experiences that highlight the importance and impact of disabled representation in advertising.

The panel also calls out the campaigns that have got the approach to disability right and what can be learned from them. 

Check out the ads that we discuss in this episode:

Maltesers: “New boyfriend”

Virgin Media: “Vyper”

Channel 4: “Superhumans”

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