Starbucks unveils winning ad for Channel 4’s Diversity in Advertising award

The coffee giant explores trans experiences in #whatsyourname, which follows James’ journey with identity as he trials his new name in Starbucks

Earlier this year, Starbucks was announced as the winner for this year’s Diversity in Advertising award run by Channel 4, which this time aimed to delve into LGBT+ experiences and encourage more nuanced portrayals of these communities.

Launched last night on Channel 4, Starbucks’ winning entry #whatsyourname follows the journey of James – who is transitioning – trying out his new name in Starbucks (the brand is well-known for scrawling the names of its customers on coffee cups). The ad shows James quietly enduring a string of everyday encounters involving his birth name Jemma – including GP appointments, receiving post, and family occasions – but it’s in Starbucks that he can choose what he calls himself.

The ad was created by Iris – pipping the likes of adam&eveDDB to the prize this year – and will be accompanied by a series of ‘moving portraits’ involving real-life stories of trans people deciding on their new names. The campaign comes off the back of research that shows trans people only star in 0.3% of ads, despite forming roughly 1% of the public, and arrives at a time where transphobic attitudes remain prevalent.

“We believe brands should be brave, progressive and challenge the status quo, which is why we’re so passionate about this campaign and the impact it’s going to have,” said Amy Bryson, managing partner at Iris. “We spent time with people from the trans community who have experienced ‘dead-naming’ to make sure our work truly reflects their experiences. We hope the campaign will raise awareness about the importance of identity and acceptance in a time when hate crimes are on the rise.”

Judges for this year’s award included the IPA and Marketing Society, as well as LGBT+ rights organisation Stonewall, the LGBT Awards and trans actress Annie Wallace. Starbucks is receiving £1 million worth of free airtime on Channel 4, while runners-up will get £250,000 worth. The coffee chain has also pledged to raise £100,000 for UK charity Mermaids through a range of mermaid cookies.

Agency: Iris
ECD: Grant Hunter
ACD: Eli Vasiliou
Creatives: Eli Vasiliou, Richard Peretti, Giulia Frassine, Anny Heyden, Matt Gray
Production company: Sweetshop
Director: Nicolas Jack Davies