The third edition of Transport for London’s (TfL) annual diversity competition focuses on ageism. It challenges brands to make their campaigns more representative of older people.
“We are responsible for one of the most valuable advertising estates in one of the most diverse cities in the world,” stated Chris Macleod, director of customer and revenue at TfL. “This is why it is vital that we play our part in making sure campaigns are truly reflective of London’s diversity.”
TfL’s Diversity in Advertising Competition was inspired by The Women We See report that showed how women and girls feel pressured to achieve a specific beauty standard as a result of the women they see in adverts around the city. The competition’s first year challenged brands to portray women authentically in their ads. It was won by health retailer, Holland and Barrett with Me.No.Pause.
Last year, TfL challenged asked brands to devise campaigns which addressed the “sometimes superficial” representation of the capital’s Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. Lingerie brand, Nubian Skin won with A Different Kind of Nude.
This year brands are asked to challenge inauthentic and one-dimensional portrayals of older people within adverts. The winner will receive advertising space worth £500,000, across the TfL network. The runners up will be invited to run a campaign on the network with match funding up to £50,000 each.
The UK has an ageing population. A 2016 Lloyds Banking study found in 2016 that while 65-year-olds make up 17.7% of the population, they only feature in 6.17% of ads. It also uncovered that older people are typically shown as a wise, generous, engaged parent or grandparent in a nuclear family – a stereotype that can have a negative impact on older adults. This was echoed in research from UCL in 2018 that found people over the age of 55 reported feeling “invisible” and “irrelevant.” Further, fewer than one in four respondents were able to recall seeing an ad that featured a person with wrinkles.