TfL takes on ageism in third edition of diversity in advertising competition

Previous years have aimed to promote better representations of women and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

Cadbury: ads have depicted loneliness experienced by many older people
Cadbury: ads have depicted loneliness experienced by many older people

Transport for London and City Hall have launched their third annual competition to increase diversity in advertising across the capital. 

This year’s contest aims to tackle inauthentic and one-dimensional portrayals of older people. Participating brands must come up with campaigns that better reflect this group of people, for a chance to receive about £500,000 worth of advertising space across the TfL network.

Two runners-up will also get the opportunity to run a campaign on the network with match funding of up to £50,000 each. TfL’s advertising partners will provide the space. 

The deadline to submit entries is 17 November and the winner and runners-up will be announced in early 2021. 

Lloyds Banking Group’s 2016 research found that while those over 65 years old made up 17.7% of the UK population, they only featured in 6.2% of advertising. The study also highlighted that those portrayals were often based in stereotypes, such as the “wise” grandparent in a nuclear family.

TfL launched its diversity competition in 2018 with a brief to better represent women. The winner was Holland & Barrett for a campaign about the menopause, created by Pablo London.

Then in 2019, the contest tackled portrayals of London’s black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Fashion brand Nubian Skin won with a campaign challenging assumptions surrounding the word “nude”  in the fashion industry.

Chris Macleod, director of customer and revenue at TfL, said: “We are responsible for the one of the most valuable advertising estates in one of the most diverse cities in the world. This is why it is vital that we play our part in making sure campaigns are truly reflective of London’s diversity.

“We are excited to be running this competition again, which will hopefully both challenge brands to think how they can better represent older people in their advertising and help them better realise the unique possibilities that our estate can offer in terms of reaching a diverse, attentive audience.” 

The topic of age reappeared on adland's agenda last month following poorly judged comments from WPP chief executive Mark Read, who said that "the average age of someone who works at WPP is less than 30 – they don’t hark back to the 1980s, luckily".

Cadbury and VCCP have been working with Age UK to raise awareness of lonliness that many older people face. 

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