This provocative military film takes aim at ads that patronize women

Spot for the Royal Air Force by Engine is the winner of Channel 4's annual diversity award

Published On
Feb 20, 2019

Editor's Pick

An ad for the Royal Air Force that takes cliches from ads aimed at women and turns them on their head has won Channel 4's annual diversity in advertising competition.

The spot, by Engine, takes the kinds of some of the typically cliched lines we've heard in ads over the years--women's worries about wrinkles, how their hair looks, wearing the right lip gloss or turning up in the same outfit as a friend-- and contrasts them with images of women serving in the RAF. (For example, a line from a typical sanitary ad about "protection with wings" is juxtaposed with a woman fighter pilot flying a plane.)

"By calling out the clichés and celebrating the incredible real women that work in the RAF, this campaign also became my own personal stand against all the female advertising out there that continues to patronize its audience," says the ad's director, Sara Dunlop of Rattling Stick. "I guess I won’t be getting sent those scripts anymore after this!”

As winner of the competition, the spot will benefit from one million pounds of free airtime on Channel 4. Previous winners of the award were Lloyds Bank in 2018 with a campaign that focused on mental health and Maltesers in 2016 with a campaign about disability.

Channel 4’s Head of Agency & Client Sales, Matt Salmon, said in a statement: “This RAF advert clearly illustrates the difference between how women are portrayed in advertising, compared to the realities of everyday life for a woman serving in the RAF. It is a worthy recipient of one million pounds of our airtime and given our research shows that women are typically shoehorned into derogatory or stereotypical roles, campaigns such as this are long overdue. We hope that other brands now follow the RAF’s lead in considering how women are portrayed within advertising."


Feb 20, 2019
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Director :
Sara Dunlop

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