Channel 4 announces 2023 LGBTQIA+ Diversity in Advertising Award shortlist & calls on industry to bring all campaigns to the nation

  • 2023 theme challenged UK advertisers on portrayal of LGBTQIA+ communities following research showing brands had stepped back over backlash fears
  • Shortlist of six major brands now invited to further develop campaign ideas to pitch for main £1 million prize
  • Channel 4 calls on all the non-shortlisted brands and creative agencies who entered the scheme to produce campaigns, regardless of shortlisting, to create step-change in LGBTQIA+ representation.

Channel 4 has today revealed the shortlist of six brands vying to secure the broadcaster’s latest £1 million 2023 Diversity in Advertising Award.

The six brands and agencies shortlisted are: Absolut (Ogilvy UK); The AA (The Gate London); Durex (Havas London); E45 (The&Partnership); Bodyform (AMV BBDO); Snag (Dentsu Creative).

Additionally, Channel 4 have recognised the creative strength of the entries and have, for the first time ever, called upon all of the non-shortlisted brands and agencies to boldly support the ideas generated by investing in bringing their pitched campaign ideas to the screen.

This year Channel 4 is challenging the advertising industry to address the lack of authentic representation of LGBTQIA+ communities in TV advertising across the UK.

This year’s theme came after industry-leading insight commissioned by Channel 4 and 4Sales revealed brands had actively stepped back from portraying LGBTQIA+ communities after becoming apprehensive about promoting campaigns through fear of backlash.

The award challenges brands to authentically reflect the under-represented by being bold and ‘Proud All Over’, a nod to the broadcaster’s ongoing Pride campaign which shines a light on allyship in smaller regional communities.

Veriça Djurdjevic, Chief Revenue Officer at Channel 4 & chair of the Diversity In Advertising Award judging panel said: 

Diversity is a top priority for Channel 4 and since its inception our Diversity In Advertising Award has always pushed brands to explore new ways to be authentically inclusive in their advertising creatives, to better represent the UK population.

“The challenge we posed for this year’s award has been answered with our strongest field of entries ever!  But whilst we are hugely excited to see the six shortlisted brands develop their ideas through the next stage of the competition, it would be a shame to see so many impactful campaign ideas fall by the wayside after so much effort, insight, creativity and expertise has been invested.

“So, for the first time ever, we are actively calling on the industry to follow-through with their creative ideas even if they haven’t been shortlisted for the main prize. Whilst this award scheme cannot financially support every campaign, we’re standing by to support brands and creative agencies in whatever way we can, to bring as many of these brilliant LGBTQIA+ campaigns as possible to the nation”.

The annual Channel 4 Diversity in Advertising Award has so far given away more than £8 million worth of commercial airtime, with previous award winners focussing on disability, mental health, ethnicity and the portrayal of women in the media.

This year the winning brand will receive £1m of video advertising space across Channel 4’s diverse portfolio of linear TV, streaming and Channel 4.0, its digital-first brand on YouTube. Additionally, the winning brand will have the opportunity to work with our market-leading social team, 4Studio, to create and launch a companion piece of social branded content worth a further £100k to the brand.

The six shortlisted brands will face an expert industry judging panel in October 2023, including returning judges from the Advertising Association, the IPA, Thinkbox, ISBA and 4Creative. Providing authentic, lived experience and insight into this year’s theme, the returning judges will be joined by asexual activist Yasmin Benoit plus representatives from Outvertising, charity Not A Phase and Channel 4’s LGBT+ staff network, 4Pride. The panel is also delighted to welcome Jack Rourke, the creator of hit Channel 4 comedy series, Big Boys.

The winning brand will be revealed in an announcement broadcast via 4Sales’ LinkedIn Live channel on the morning of Wednesday 18th October 2023. Click here for details.

For further information:

Tim English at

About the 2023 theme

Since Channel 4’s 2019 Diversity in Advertising Award invited brands to focus on LGBT+ representation, there has been zero growth in representation since then, with LGBTQIA+ communities continuing to appear in just 3% of UK TV adverts.

Although this figure aligns with the latest UK Census data which indicates that 3.2% of the UK population identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or ‘other sexual orientation’ (c. 1.5 million), 7.5% of the total population did not answer the sexual orientation question at all, rising to 10% among those who were from non-white ethnic backgrounds. Due to this, it is widely believed the census could vastly underestimate and misrepresent this proportion of the population which identifies as LGBTQIA+ due to a fear of disclosing sexuality and a lack of understanding within society.

The LGBTQIA+ definition has evolved since 2019, embracing and recognising a broader range of diversity, sexuality and identity. The 2023 Award brief encourages brands to mirror this by challenging advertisers and creative agencies to pitch an exceptional TV ad that best features and portrays LGBTQIA+ communities at the heart of their campaign, ultimately promoting the brand’s product or services. 

Last year’s competition focused on improving disability representation within TV advertising, with the winning campaign ‘Me & My Autism’ from Vanish and Havas going on to win a number of awards. Previous awards have also focussed on disability (Maltesers), mental health (Lloyds Bank), the portrayal of women in the media (RAF) the lack of representation and stereotyping of the LGBT+ community (Starbucks), Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic Culture (EA Sports) and age representation (TENA). 

More details about the research

  • The research also found a lack of authentic portrayal of LGBTQIA+ communities in advertising, with brands too often resorting to stereotypical representations skewing young, white and male, with ethnicity, age and disability considerations rarely covered. The research found:
    • LGBTQIA+ characters are three times more likely to be from a white ethnic background (71%) than a Black background (23%), and twelve times more likely than from a Mixed Ethnicity background (6%)
    • There was no representation of Asian or disabled LGBTQIA+ characters
    • Two thirds (61%) of LGBTQIA+ characters are male (vs 26% female)
    • LGBTQIA+ characters are 15 times more likely to be assumed 16-49-years-old (94%) than over 50-years-old
  • 1000 adverts from 2022 were audited during the research carried out by independent research agency, Tapestry, as the fourth project in Channel 4’s ‘Mirror On The Industry’ series.

About Channel 4

Channel 4 exists to create change through entertainment. Publicly owned yet commercially funded, Channel 4 generates significant and sustainable cultural, economic and social impact across the UK – at no cost to the taxpayer.

The broadcaster’s distinctive remit is set by Parliament, and it has a role to represent unheard voices, challenge with purpose and reinvent entertainment. For over 40 years, it has been a British success story, engaging generation after generation of young people.

Through a unique publisher-broadcaster model, Channel 4 commissions its content from the UK independent production sector. Working with around 300 creative companies every year, Channel 4 makes a major contribution to the local, regional and national economy, creating and supporting thousands of jobs and businesses across the country.

In 2020, Channel 4 launched its Future4 strategy to become a digital-first public service media company and to continue to deliver significant impact for UK audiences and investment into the UK creative economy.

Across its bases in London, Leeds, Manchester, Bristol and Glasgow, Channel 4 is turbocharging its efforts to find, nurture and develop talent across the UK. Through its training and development initiative 4Skills, Channel 4 is opening up opportunities in broadcasting, with a particular focus on disadvantaged young people, and addressing skills gaps across the Nations and Regions.

Channel 4 has the UK’s biggest free streaming service plus 11 television channels including: Channel 4, E4, E4 Extra, More4, Film4, 4Seven and The Box Plus Network. Through Film4 Productions, Channel 4 also invests in British filmmakers to huge critical acclaim, producing 37 Oscar wins and 88 BAFTA wins in its history.

View our past winners

Since 2016 we’ve given away over £6million of airtime to advertisers who best respond to our briefs. Check out their award-winning work here!

Winners Gallery

Stay in the loop

Sign up for the latest updates from 4Sales in our weekly newsletter.

Sign up now