Starbucks becomes a haven for a transgender customer in this frustrating, touching ad

Spot from Iris won U.K. broadcaster Channel 4's Diversity in Advertising Award

Published On
Feb 04, 2020

Editor's Pick

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. 


Feb 04, 2020
Client :
Agency :
Executive Creative Director :
Grant Hunter
Associate Creative Director :
Eli Vasiliou
ACD Copy :
Eli Vasiliou
Senior Creative Art :
Richard Peretti
Creative :
Giulia Frassine
Creative :
Anny Heyden
Creative :
Matt Gray
Managing Partner :
Amy Bryson
Business Director :
Elisha Pearce
Account Director :
Stephen Bennett
TV Producer :
Emily Hendrey
Agency Producer :
Richard Blaxill
Planning Director :
Raj Thambirajah
Senior Planner :
Florence Evans
Art Production :
Lu Howlett
Art Production :
Jody Brown
Art Production :
Paris Bennett
Editorial :
Vino Vethavanam
Peter Maynard
Olivier Darriet-Fisher
Oliver Rushton
Syd Harvey
Design :
Katrina Loosemore
Design :
Roger Norris
Design :
James Butt
Design :
Mollie Wade
Design :
Jess Leonard
Design :
Josh West
Design :
Nicole Vanner
Motion :
Mike Tsang
Motion :
Rebecca Ransom
Retouching :
Kevin Relf
Retouching :
Cat Wood
Social :
Beth Carroll
Social :
Tom Langan
Social :
Chaz Callingham-Woods
Production / Delivery :
Jennifer Clark
Production / Delivery :
Adam Brocklebank
Production / Delivery :
Guy Cain
Artwork :
Billy Thomas
Artwork :
Kyle Nagle
Artwork :
Tom Park
Artwork :
Murat Ince
Artwork :
Rebecca Koss
Business Affairs :
Katie Singer
PR :
Rachel Geraghty
Production :
Director :
Nicolas Jack Davies
Director of Photography :
Ula Pontikos
Executive Producer :
Justin Edmund-White
Executive Producer :
Morgan Whitlock
Producer :
Hannah Cooper
Art Director :
Scarlett Clifford
Offline :
Post Production & Grade :
Time Based Arts
Sound/Audio :
Casting :
Anna Stark
Music :
Zebedee Budworth

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