Starbucks and agency Iris are the winners of the Channel 4 Diversity in Advertising award this year, with an ad about transgender identity that aired over the weekend in the U.K.
This year's theme for the contest was LGBT+, and Starbucks created a spot about someone who is transitioning from female to male. We see him face everyday challenges when asked for this name, and, from the defeated look on his face, it becomes increasingly clear that he no longer identifies with his birth name, "Jemma."
For example, he's called in the doctor's waiting room by that name, and then introduced as "Jemma" by his father at a party. But in the final scene, asked for his name in Starbucks, he has the confidence to answer "James," and that's what the barista scrawls on the paper cup. The spot was directed with nuance and sensitivity by Nicolas Jack Davies via Sweetshop.
In a press release, Channel 4 said the ad was "inspired by real life experiences of individuals who find Starbucks stores to be a safe space, where their new name is accepted and they are recognized as who they really are."
Amy Bryson, managing partner at Iris, adds: “We believe brands should be brave, progressive and challenge the status quo, which is why we’re so passionate about this campaign and the impact it’s going to have. It was critical for us to tell ‘James’s story’ in an authentic way, so we spent time with people from the trans community who have experienced ‘dead-naming’ to make sure our work truly reflects their experiences.
This is the fourth year of Channel 4's Diversity award, which gives the winner one million pounds of airtime; the previous winners were AMV BBDO's comedic ads for Maltesers focusing on disability, a spot about mental health for Lloyds Bank by Adam&Eve/DDB, and Engine's film for the Royal Air Force that calls out cliches in ads targeting women.