TV ads in 2018: How far have we come? By Rosie Arnold

This time last year I set out my agenda/hope for society-changing ideas that harness the power of TV. It was a call to creatives to make ads that are not only entertaining and effective, but that also challenge stereotypes and better reflect society.

In a year that saw a lesbian couple rush to the hospital to have a baby, an entire ad break broadcast through the eyes of those with sight loss, and menopausal women talking about hot flushes, it feels like we’re taking steps in the right direction. I asked some vocal campaigners of diversity and inclusion in the industry to pick the work from 2018 that stood out to them. Here they are...

Jan Gooding, Stonewall: ‘This is belonging’, The British Army, Karmarama

The British Army ‘This is belonging’ campaign is an outstanding example of embracing inclusion. It took many by surprise, as made manifest by the outcry that then ensued. Critics accused it of being too politically correct and ‘soft’, with its claim that ‘having you voice heard’ or ‘keeping your (Muslim) faith’ would be accommodated in army culture. 

Let us be in no doubt. This campaign is not simply being altruistic, but a result of poor recruitment figures leading the Army needing to appeal to a much broader base of young people. However, it is also consistent with the realisation that diversity brings other benefits too. The British Army doesn’t just fight other people. It is also deployed on peacekeeping missions, and has to engage effectively with populations with very different beliefs and experiences to its own. It stands to reason then that more diverse its own talent, the more intelligent the operational decisions they make should be.

This is brave advertising that will surely attract brave people.

Sam Philips, Omnicom Media Group: ‘Here’s to love’, McCain’s, adam&eve/DDB

To lay my chips on the table, McCain’s ‘Here’s to love’ (kudos to the client, Adam&Eve DDB, PHD)  was 2018 TV inclusion gold.  Built around the finding that 84% of consumers couldn’t recall seeing a family like theirs anywhere in popular culture, McCains’ joyful smashing together of people who just happen to be lesbians, have disabilities, be a different ethnicity to their partner, be older than the advertising norms, and more besides isn’t diversity and inclusion going too far; it’s diversity and inclusion starting to reflect the manifold realities of today’s Britain.  Metrics show it really worked for the client too.   More please!


Ete Davies, AnalogFolk: ‘Labels are for clothes’, River Island, Studio Blvd

As a form of very personal creativity, fashion should always be about self-expression and a celebration of identity. Making your statement to the world about who or what you are, or choose to be. 

Historically however, it has been the opposite. There's always been an unattainable ‘ideal' – and over the last decade social media has only exacerbated this stereotyping and body-shaming. 

Thankfully, we're now seeing a response to this with body-positivity and a drive for fashion advertising that’s more representative of the wider world. River Island's #labelsareforclothes campaign does this brilliantly.

It’s the brand speaking authentically to its audience about what fashion is about – freedom of self-expression without prejudices.


Daniele Fiandaca, Utopia and Token Man: ‘Get the inside out’, Lloyds, adam&eve/DDB

I loved this series of ads which brings to the fore the issue of mental health and highlights the importance of ending the stigma and making it a part of everyday conversation. By using such a diverse selection of people, it also cleverly reminds us that mental health issues can affect us all. 

As a business Lloyds are known to be one of the leaders in the inclusion and diversity space and as a partner of Mental Health UK are clearly looking to tackle mental health issues within the workplace. It's refreshing to see a major business genuinely championing this cause.

Simon Redican, PAMCO: Department for Education, ‘Every lesson shapes a life’, Havas London

This ad is moving, aspirational and true to real life. It taps into exactly why someone would want to teach and shape young lives for the better. It is also refreshing to see an ad featuring working class people that doesn’t involve characters (caricatures?) flogging DIY, gambling or fast food while growling away in semi-threatening tones. We have never had more need of great teachers, and I’m sure this ad will play its part in recruiting them. The only nagging question is did it get enough exposure? I would say not, which sadly speaks volumes about our current twisted priorities.


Ali Hanan, Creative Equals: ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’, Pride in London, BMB

In 2018, my 15-year-old mascara-wearing son and his gender-fluid glitter-tastic crew headed to Pride in London. For them, they feel the ‘work’ on LGBTQI rights is 'done', where acceptance is the norm (they think my generation is SO 'genderist'). As this ad shows, the work is far from done. Two in five trans people, according to Stonewall, have had to deal with a hate incidence in the past 12 months. We have a long way to go to get a place ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’. This haunting song from the Wizard of Oz is spot on, insisting there is another reality to the one that happens now. The ad moves from scenarios of violence, rejection, humiliation and hate to a place of affinity and love, where real-life couples celebrate the children they are bringing into the world. It's a message of hope - and an affirmation that #PrideMatters. 

  • Rosie Arnold
    Rosie Arnold
    Creative Partner and Head of Art at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO
  • Posted under
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