TfL seeks authentic BAME portrayals in second £500,000 diversity contest

Holland & Barrett: winner of last year's competition
Holland & Barrett: winner of last year's competition

Competition follows initiative last year to encourage diverse portrayals of women.

Transport for London and the mayor of London’s office is once again offering £500,000 of free advertising as the top prize in a competition that challenges brands to make their ads more representative of the UK capital.

While last year’s contest was about promoting diverse portrayals of women, this year’s competition focuses on people from black, Asian and minority-ethnic backgrounds, who make up 40% of London’s population (compared with 13% across the UK as a whole, according to at the 2011 census).

Last year’s Ethnicity in Advertising report, commissioned by Lloyds Banking Group, found that the proportion of ads featuring at least one BAME person increased marginally from 12% in 2015 to 25% in 2018. But just 7% of ads featured a BAME person as the sole or main protagonist.

The study revealed that 32% of black people, 28% of Asian people and 29% of multi-racial people felt that their ethnic groups were not sufficiently represented in ad campaigns.

The prize of free adspace has been provided by TfL along with its advertising partners, JCDecaux UK and Global. Two runners-up will each receive match funding of £50,000 from TfL in return for a commitment to spend that amount. 

The winners, set to be announced in February, will be chosen by a panel of nine judges, including Campaign global editor-in-chief Claire Beale, TfL director of customer and revenue Chris Macleod, IPA head of diversity Leila Siddiqi and Engine Creative chief executive Ete Davies.

Holland & Barrett, the winner of last year’s award, launched a campaign in January aimed at breaking social stigma around the menopause.

Macleod said: "We are proud to serve one of the most diverse cities in the world and it is only right that the advertising displayed on our estate reflects that.

"It was heartening to see how brands embraced the challenge last year and I look forward to seeing how they will do so again."

Beale added: "Advertising has a tremendous power to shape society and culture. With that power comes responsibility and hopefully this competition will encourage the ad industry to properly up its game when it comes to the authentic portrayal of black, Asian and minority-ethnic people in its work."

Start Your Free 30-Day Free Trial

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to, plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events.

Become a subscriber


Don’t miss your daily fix of breaking news, latest work, advice and commentary.

register free