Starbucks and Iris win Channel 4's Diversity in Advertising Award

Coffee chain will receive £1m worth of advertising for representation of LGBT+ community.

Starbucks: it will be first time brand has released film specifically for UK market
Starbucks: it will be first time brand has released film specifically for UK market

Channel 4 has handed Starbucks UK and its creative agency, Iris London, its annual Diversity in Advertising Award.

Starbucks will receive £1m worth of commercial advertising for its winning campaign, which is set to air on Channel 4 from February 2020.

This year, the Diversity in Advertising Award challenged brands to focus on LGBT+ representation and stereotyping in advertising, in keeping with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

Brands were also encouraged to explore LGBT+ representation in light of the world’s biggest study into diversity in TV ads, commissioned by Channel 4's sales house, 4Sales, to discover how minority groups are being portrayed in the media.  

The research found that members of the LGBT+ community only featured in 3% of ads, despite making up at least 6% of the population. 

Jonathan Allan, chief commercial officer at Channel 4 and chair of the judges for the Diversity in Advertising Award, said: "Diversity is at the heart of everything we do at Channel 4 and we are determined to drive lasting positive change in TV advertising. 

"When it comes to LGBT+ representation in advertising, visibility has increased, but as our research finds, LGBT+ people are still underrepresented or portrayed negatively. That is why this groundbreaking campaign by Starbucks stood out and we can’t wait to work with them to bring their winning idea to air."

In addition to Starbucks' £1m award, Channel 4 will also match-fund all runner-up campaigns with commercial airtime worth £250,000.

Nearly 40 brands applied for this year’s award, with finalists including Virgin Media and Adam & Eve/DDB, Snickers and Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, and Coca-Cola and Epoch Design. 

Screwfix and Wavemaker were highly commended by Channel 4 for their campaign on LGBT+ workers in the construction industry.

This year’s judging panel included Sarah Garrett, chief executive of SPM Group and founder of the British LGBT Awards, and Campaign editor-in-chief Claire Beale.

Grant Hunter, Iris’ executive creative director for Europe, said: "In a challenging cultural climate, with evidence of intolerance against the LGBT+ community on the rise, we’re delighted that the judges have selected our idea. 

"Now, more than ever, we need to open the conversation around inclusion and diversity. This is a defining moment for Starbucks, as it’s the first time a piece of film for broadcast has been created by the brand, specifically for a UK audience."

This is the fourth instalment of Channel 4’s Diversity in Advertising Award, with last year’s competition won by Royal Air Force and Engine for their work in challenging the portrayal of women in advertising. 

Previous winners include Maltesers and AMV, and Lloyds Bank and Adam & Eve/DBB, which gained acclaim for their representation of disability and mental health respectively.