Nationwide, Maltesers & McCain confront online abuse in C4 ad break

Channel 4 has teamed up with Nationwide Building Society, Maltesers and McCain to broadcast a primetime ad break takeover which takes a stand against online abuse. The break will feature a selection of genuine cruel social media posts aimed at the real people cast in the brands’ ads in an effort to encourage viewers to consider the impact of divisive and hateful comments online.

The takeover was broadcast during the first episode of the new series of Channel 4’s Gogglebox at approximately 21.12pm on Friday 7th September 2018. Viewers were encouraged to question why online abuse is not taken as seriously as face-to-face hate before being pointed to an online support page ( for more information. They will also be able to continue the debate on social media using the hashtag #TogetherAgainstHate.

This impactful collaborative campaign adapts the brands’ original adverts to include examples of real online abuse the contributors received. This is amplified with the application of visual effects designed to replicate what it feels like for those on the receiving end of such hate, including mould, a cracked screen and digital distortion.

Matt Salmon, Channel 4 Head of Agency and Client Sales, said: “As social media has grown in popularity, so too has the environment in which more and more people feel it is acceptable to make vile, threatening and abusive comments.

“This unique brand collaboration highlights this important issue and demonstrates Channel 4’s commitment to championing diversity beyond our programmes whilst building on 4Sales’ industry leading reputation for delivering original and creative ad campaigns.”

The ad break activity was brokered by 4Sales, Wavemaker (Nationwide Building Society), Zenith & Mediacom (Maltesers) and PHD (McCain). The idea was developed in partnership between 4Sales’ creative arm PL4Y and The Outfit, who also produced the work. Wavemaker will also be running a social campaign on the night with influencers talking about their personal experiences.

Sara Bennison, Nationwide’s Chief Marketing Officer, said: “It’s time that we stand up to hate, which is why we are delighted to be working on this ad break with Channel 4, Maltesers and McCain because it will highlight a growing societal problem where an increasing number of people appear to believe that posting hate speech and threats online is acceptable. Adverts featuring people of different colours, backgrounds and perceived sexuality often appear to attract the most criticism and vitriol and we, like others, have experienced this first hand through our Voices Nationwide campaign.

“Of course, there is a line between what can be considered ‘banter’ and what is fundamentally crossing the line by attacking individuals. Free speech cannot extend to spreading hate. If it would be deemed unacceptable said face-to-face, why should it be allowed online? At the end of the day, abuse is abuse and that is never okay in our book.”

Kerry Cavanaugh, Marketing Director UK, Mars Wrigley Confectionery UK, said: “We are committed to using the power of our brands to challenge stereotyping and misrepresentation in advertising. This particular MALTESERS® campaign, which won Channel 4’s Diversity in Advertising Award in 2016, is one we are still immensely proud of and we are pleased to be uniting with Nationwide and McCain to face the issue of online abuse head-on.”

Mark Hodge, UK Marketing Director at McCain said: “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. As such, we fully support Channel 4’s decision to highlight the problem of online hate speech and take a stand against this inexcusable behaviour.

“We are very grateful to Lee and Mat for featuring in our We Are Family campaign, which sought to celebrate the modern family in every way possible, from LGBT+ families, to grandparents who act as parents. We’re shining a light on the good that exists in the diversity of the nation and the truth that whoever we are, we can all still unite over meal times together.”

Samantha Renke, Actress and Disability Campaigner, said: “When the MALTESERS® adverts launched, I was shocked and upset by the comments, however, I am not by any means naïve to the world of trolling or online bullying. Any minority or group with something to say is subject to online abuse. For me, I’ve never had people come up and say horrible things to my face, but the internet gives people anonymity. This Channel 4 initiative is sparking an important conversation and reminding us that we need to call out those who think it’s acceptable to hide behind a screen.”

Lee Camozzi and Mat Samuels commented: “For us, taking part in this campaign offers a chance to put a spotlight on issues around family diversity and acceptance. We were delighted to appear in the original McCain We Are Family ad, as it’s rare to see advertising which represents our family dynamic, but it was awful to receive such horrible comments. Regardless, we remain proud to be part of an advertisement that celebrates families, whatever form they come in and we’re committed to highlighting the problem of online hate speech, alongside Channel 4.”

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