Channel 4 awards £1m diversity in advertising prize to RAF and Engine

The Royal Air Force and Engine beat three other finalists to win £1m of commercial airtime on Channel 4.

Maltesers and AMV won Channel 4's first diversity competition in 2016
Maltesers and AMV won Channel 4's first diversity competition in 2016

Channel 4 has named the Royal Air Force and its agency, Engine, as the winner of its annual £1m Diversity in Advertising Award, which this year focuses on the portrayal of women. 

The brand will receive £1m worth of commercial airtime for its winning campaign, created by Engine, which will air in February 2019.

Also shortlisted for the prize were Cadbury Milk Tray and Elvis, eBay and 72andSunny Amsterdam, and Flybe and McCann Bristol. Each brand and agency team presented their ideas last month at Channel 4’s Plannertarium, an annual event bringing together the industry’s rising stars to explore creativity and innovation in television.

Channel 4 is offering the other finalists match-funded commercial airtime worth up to £250,000 to make the ads they pitched to the judging panel, with the hope that all of the shortlisted ideas will air.

Two of the original six finalists – HSBC and Grey London, and Jaguar and Spark44 – withdrew from this year’s competition before the presentations.

This is the third instalment of Channel 4’s Diversity in Advertising Award, which recognises the best creative idea focused on diversity. This year’s theme was chosen to coincide with the centennial anniversary of women receiving the right to vote in the UK, debate around the gender pay gap and the #MeToo movement.

Channel 4 launched the award in 2016, the same year as its sponsorship of the Rio Paralympics, with a theme of disability. Maltesers and Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO were the first winner.

In 2017, the broadcaster invited brands to address non-visible disabilities. Lloyds Bank and Adam & Eve/DDB won the contest with a campaign about mental health.

Matt Salmon, Channel 4’s head of agency and client sales, said: "At its worst, the portrayal of women in advertising has a huge impact on society at large, reinforcing negative stereotypes.

"The campaign by the RAF and Engine vividly encapsulates the issues and I really hope the moment it airs on Channel 4 will act as a catalyst for change in how women are portrayed in advertising."

The 2018 judging panel comprised: Jonathan Allan, Channel 4 chief commercial officer and chair of judges; Dan Brooke, Channel 4 chief marketing and communication officer; Dawn Butler, shadow minister for women and equalities; Lindsay Clay, chief executive of Thinkbox; Jane English, 4Creative business director; Karen Fraser, director of Credos; Gemma Greaves, CEO of The Marketing Society; Brittaney Kiefer, creativity editor at Campaign; Eoin McLaughlin, 4Creative creative director; and Leila Siddiqi, head of diversity at the IPA.

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