TfL and City Hall launch prize to improve ethnic diversity in ads

Brands are being challenged to create campaigns that offer authentic and nuanced portrayals of BAME communities, as a way of progressing representation in advertising

London might be known for its rich ethnic and cultural diversity, however it seems advertising still has some way to go before that’s reflected. Although representation in advertising might appear to be improving, a recent report highlights that many members of BAME communities don’t find portrayals to be accurate.

In an attempt to progress attitudes and approaches towards portraying BAME individuals within advertising, Transport for London and City Hall have joined forces on a competition specifically aimed at improving ethnic diversity in ads.

Brands participating in the competition will be challenged to create campaigns that avoid narrow or superficial representations of London’s BAME communities, and the winning effort will be awarded £500,000 worth of ad space on the TfL network. It comes off the back of last year’s competition to improve representation of women in ads, which was won by Holland & Barrett for its Me.No.Pause campaign.

This year, judges include figures from across media and advertising, including Vanessa Kingori, Publishing Editor of British Vogue, Claire Beale of Campaign, and author and columnist Elizabeth Uviebinené. The panel will also include ENGINE CEO Ete Davies and Dayoung Yun, Creative Director of R/GA, as well as judges from TfL and London City Hall.

The competition underlines the need to clarify what improving representation actually means, and that it’s not simply a case of increasing surface level visibility but demonstrating authentic, non-tokenistic and wide-ranging experiences.

Although the prize demonstrates a continued need to improve representation of London’s diverse communities, some steps are being made in the right direction. Independent studios like On Road have been helping brands to create accurate depictions of young people in the capital. Meanwhile talent and casting agencies like Nii and Looks Like Me are striving to make advertising and modelling a more inclusive environment for all.

Entries close on December 12; find more detail here

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