Volvo pulls out of Channel 4’s £1m diversity competition after winning

Volvo, in a surprise move have decided to pull out of Channel 4’s Diversity in Marketing Award. They claim that Gray’s winning entry had not been approved, and as such will pass up on £1m in free airtime.

In July, Channel 4 announced that Volvo UK and Valenstein & Fatt (Grey London) had won the £1million airtime prize for the Diversity in Advertising Award, with an ad campaign focussed on non-visible disability.

The brand was one of seven finalists – BT and AMV BBDO; Ford and GTB; Panasonic and Brave; Bose and Valenstein & Fatt (Grey London); Marks & Spencer and Valenstein & Fatt (Grey London; and the winners Volvo UK and Valenstein & Fatt (Grey London) – from more than 50 high quality campaign ideas featuring a range of non-visible disabilities such as depression, Alzheimer’s, autism and deafness.

At the time Caroline Pay, Joint CCO, Valenstein and Fatt said: “Proud does not even begin to describe how we feel about winning this prize. It’s a big deal for V+F, a big deal for Volvo, but above all else a chance to change the way people with non-visible disabilities are represented in the media.”

Things seem to have changed now with Volvo now saying Grey: “submitted an entry to the Channel 4 competition that had not previously been shared with us, nor approved for production”.

It does seem strange that this has only been commented on now, nearly 4 months after the win, rather than at the time. In response, Grey says: “It’s an incredible initiative and we wish the next iteration of it every success. As an agency, we are fully committed to greater diversity, as is our Volvo client, and we will continue to both drive and support the industry’s efforts.”

It also seems strange, given the success that Mars had with their winning entry that a company would not wish to take advantage of this prize.

It may also make people wary of Volvo’s commitment to the ethical campaigns such as those suggested by Grey. Given 1m of free advertising it seems strange that they would not try to do a campaign based on Grey’s idea.

This also puts Channel 4 in a difficult position as they may need to look at the other finalists for a wiinner, it would be a shame if an agency did not get the chance to complete their ad.



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