Brands stand together against hate in shocking Channel 4 Friday night ad break


When brands stick their necks out to embrace diversity and do the right thing, they invariably suffer a social media backlash from bigots.

Channel 4 is exposing brand-focused hate speech with a themed ad break during Gogglebox, when three big advertisers — Maltesers, Nationwide and McCain — will show commercials featuring disabled, black or gay characters. The shock element is that each ad will be overlaid with some of the real messages of abuse they have received.

“Ew, she’s disabled,” “Disgusting, freakish and awful,” are a few of the insults aimed at the Maltesers spot. Nationwide’s black poet is called a “gorilla” who needs “kicking to death,” and McCain’s gay parents are “degenerate poofs” accused of “child abuse.”

The messages are shocking, although in many ways not surprising, because we all know this happens. But when confronted by the reality of online abuse, the destructive power of hate becomes very clear.

Mark Hodge, UK marketing director at McCain says: “While the vast majority of people expect today’s advertising to represent modern life, it’s sad that a minority still refuse to accept that the make-up of families has evolved and this evolution is something to be celebrated. We’re shining a light on the good that exists in the diversity of the nation.”

Hate has been in the spotlight this week thanks to the controversy over Nike’s choice of civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick for its new ad campaign, so this is lucky timing for maximum impact for Channel 4.

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall is a journalist and editorial consultant and is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.