Festival Intelligence: Championing minority groups on the global stage | M&M Global

Festival Intelligence: Championing minority groups on the global stage

As inclusivity and diversity remain high on the advertising agenda for marketers around the world, an increasing number of brands are dedicating their ad dollars to creating global platforms to champion causes for minority groups around the world.  

When we talk about minority groups in advertising, this can range from ethnic minorities to people with disabilities to single parents to the LGBT community. Advertising has already set the benchmark for best-in-class communications and now the focus is turning to setting a benchmark in diversity. 

Championing inclusivity in advertising by communicating directly with minority groups was one of the key themes to emerge from the M&M Global Awards 2019 shortlist. 

Breaking down the 139 shortlisted entries to feature this year, the majority of campaigns were entered from the UK (24%), followed by the US (17%) and Australia (11%). The global appeal of these awards was reflected across the board, with other shortlisted entries widespread from Brazil to Cambodia, Canada to Pakistan, and Puerto Rico to Taiwan. 

Honing specifically on the UK market, where the majority of entries came from, a broad spread of brand sectors featured, spanning automotive, food & beverage, travel & tourism, technology, finance and retail. 

Digging a little deeper into these entries reveals a strong trend towards inclusive communications strategies that either speak directly to minority consumers or use a brand’s voice to stand up and champion a particular cause on the global stage, by addressing the needs of these consumers in a more personal and direct way. 

As stated in a recent Adobe Digital Insights report entitled ‘Diversity in Advertising’, “Perception is a precursor to an engaged customer or a disengaged visitor – brands may produce diverse creative, but if they aren’t reaching diverse populations through effective delivery, targeting and personalised experience, then they will struggle to achieve success.”

Thus, a majority part of these campaigns was in the delivery. The range of media platforms used across these particular campaigns include print and online media, OOH, TV and cinema, amplified through social media to spread the word to the masses, as part of brands’ efforts to target their specific audience and champion a greater cause.

We must not neglect to mention that increased sophistication and advancements in technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also helping brands to create apps and products that genuinely have the power to change the way people can interact with content and provide something they might not have been able to before. 

By teaming up with charities and celebrity influencers, using a global platform such as those offered by sport and/or media partners, rallying support for these causes have proven successful not just from a brand building perspective but in changing perception, creating a benefit and driving real change across the world. 

To quote Steve Stoute, founder and CEO of UnitedMasters and Translation, in an article featured on AdWeek earlier this year: “The only true way to reflect the world you’re aspiring to shape is to embrace diverse backgrounds and perspectives. It’s the only way to understand cultural codes, tap into a range of emotions, grasp the issues impacting different communities and understand how messages are best communicated across different groups… Advertising is rooted in developing a deep understanding of the shared values that define a generation. It’s about being authentically tuned into an ethos that transcends demographics.”

It’s important for modern marketers to know their audience, define and communicate with all audiences as individuals, no matter their cultural background, gender, sexual orientation or physical / mental abilities. Providing diversified content for diversified audiences, in a way that reflects and represents present-day society, will give brands the edge over their competition, by translating into brand advocacy and consumer engagement. Ultimately, advertising has the power to be inclusive for all. 

We put the spotlight on two M&M Global Awards 2019 shortlisted entries, which highlight this trend:

paddy power

Rainbow Russians | Paddy Power | MediaCom | UK & Ireland

Shortlisted for: Best Campaign led by Cause, Sports


It’s legal to persecute gay people in Russia. Russia is a beautiful country with a rich cultural history – ballet, opera and literature to name just a few. But in 2018, when the FIFA World Cup came to town, it was a darker side of Russian culture that came to light. Paddy Power is the UK’s 3rd largest betting organisation. It has also been a long-time champion of LGBT rights & challenging homophobia in British football, with annual campaigns around the cause running since 2013. As well as being a supporter of LGBT rights, it has a history of provocative advertising. 

The 2018 World Cup provided an opportunity for Paddy Power to bring its support for LGBT rights to a global stage. Whilst the world’s eyes would be on Russia, Paddy Power could use the event to shine a spotlight on the injustice felt by the LGBT community in Russia and, more importantly, using the brand’s provocative style to doing something about it. The goal was for Russia to support the LGBT community during the World Cup. Openly. Unflinchingly. Wholeheartedly. Because simply by playing, the Russian team were funding a campaign to tackle homophobia in football. Every time Russia scored, Paddy Power would donate £10,000 to the foundation of Britain’s leading LGBT publication, Attitude Magazine. The charity, partnered with Paddy Power, were passionate in making the FIFA World Cup – and football in general – a more LGBT inclusive event. 

And so was born the ‘Rainbow Russians’ initiative. The rainbow is the most iconic emblem of the LGBT community and one it would leverage in the creative theme – there would be no mistaking its affinity with the LGBT movement. The agency used relevant media placements to execute the strategy, stimulating discussion on the day of each game and involving everyone in its quest for justice, whether this be team or supporter. The iconic Rainbow Russian theme ran in front-half print environments alongside World Cup news stories in all of the major football titles. The brand also recruited high-profile sports stars, including ex-Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, former international rugby star Gareth Thomas and Rugby World-Cup final referee Nigel Owens, to come out in support of Russia (and therefore our initiative) in social media posts. Once people’s overwhelming support for the campaign came to fever pitch, MediaCom used a variety of online formats at times of day when football conversations peaks on social media to connect with its audience.


Huawei StorySign | Huawei | Wavemaker | UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Australia

Shortlisted for: Best Campaign led by Cause, Best Campaign led by Technology, Technology & Communications


There are 32 million deaf children in the world, and most of them struggle to read. This is because deaf children don’t learn to read like hearing children. They can’t learn phonetically, so they struggle to match words with sounds. This has a hugely negative impact on their education, and their future lives. In fact, new research shows that it takes 21 years for deaf children to catch up with their hearing peers. With 57% of deaf students failing to achieve the very basic school qualifications, these were limits that needed to be pushed with AI at a key time for families and mobile phone purchasing.

To change the story of deaf illiteracy and show the power of Huawei’s smartphone technology, it needed an idea that offered real change to deaf children. Wavemaker created the first global literacy platform for the deaf – StorySign. A revolutionary free app, StorySign scans the words in selected children’s books and instantly translates them into sign language, using the most advanced signing avatar ever. For the first time, deaf children and their parents can learn to read and sign, together. StorySign uses the power of Huawei’s Kirin AI chip to boost traditional OCR technology.

To ensure StorySign reached the broadest possible audience the agency decided to launch in the run-up to Christmas – yet to achieve cut through it needed to tell the story in the most meaningful way. Huawei drafted the support of Chris Overton, academy award winning director to craft a 60 second film which brought the campaign challenge to life. To “Capture” audience attention it ran the 60 second hero spot across TV, Cinema and premium reach digital (major news, YouTube and social). Digital provided the campaign bedrock across 10 Western European markets and Australia. Huawei’s promise is to push the limits of what’s humanly possible, available on all Android devices, opening books to an entire generation of deaf children. StorySign answers that promise.

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