Mars Chocolate UK celebrates diversity in new ads for MALTESERS®

  • 12.9 million people, one fifth of the population1, in the UK are disabled yet their representation in advertising is still very limited
  • As part of Channel 4’s Year of Disability, the broadcaster’s £1m Superhumans Wanted competition winners Mars Chocolate UK worked with AMV BBDO to create new adverts for MALTESERS®, inspired by real ‘lighter side of-life’ experiences told by people living with a disability
  • The adverts will air for first time on Channel 4 during the Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony on 7th September

Working in partnership with disability charity Scope, Mars Chocolate UK is launching three new MALTESERS® adverts in its latest campaign, focusing specifically on the lighter moments in the lives of those living with a disability.

The adverts, created in response to a ground- breaking Channel 4 initiative which gave away £1m of its commercial air time to help improve representation of disability in TV advertising will air during the Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony on Channel 4 on Wednesday 7th September from 9pm.

Research from Scope, which has partnered with Mars Chocolate on the development and production of the adverts, highlights the need for fairer representation in the media of the fifth of the population in the UK who are disabled. Scope found that:

  • 80 per cent of disabled people feel underrepresented by TV and the media2
  • Nearly two thirds of disabled people (61 per cent)2 believe that more visible disabled people in the media would improve attitudes to disability
  • Over half of disabled people in the UK (62 per cent) say they are treated differently because they are disabled and this rises to a staggering 76 per cent of young disabled people (18-34 year olds)3
  • Two thirds of Brits (67 per cent) admit they feel awkward around disabled people4

Inspired by real-life stories, the adverts follow the familiar MALTESERS® creative concept of friends sharing embarrassing moments, from new boyfriends to behaving badly at a wedding – where the best thing to do is simply ‘look on the light side.’

Michele Oliver, VP of Marketing at Mars Chocolate UK: “As one of the UK’s biggest advertisers, we have a responsibility and a role to play in reflecting diversity in everyday media. This is a first step for us, and with a fifth of the UK population living with a disability, and the nation focused on this great sporting event, this is the right time to join the conversation.

“Mars is passionate about using the power of our brands for good and, thanks to the support of Channel 4, we’re proud to be starting our journey to reflect more of the glorious diversity of the Great British public through richer, more inclusive and inspiring advertising. And we hope this is just the start.”

Lisa Quinlan-Rahman director of external affairs at disability charity Scope, said: “We know comedy is a great way to shine a light on the awkwardness that many people feel about disability. We hope MALTESERS®’ use of humour in these adverts will get people thinking differently about disability and help break down the barriers that many disabled people face. But life isn’t always full of laughs and we’ve worked very closely with Mars to ensure the adverts reflect the experiences of disabled people. Disabled people come from an incredibly diverse array of backgrounds. They rarely see their lives reflected in marketing campaigns, the media, in advertising and in public culture.

“We hope this step by Mars is the first of many. The purple pound is worth over £200 billion a year, and we’d like to see more companies recognising the spending power of disabled consumers.”

Emily Yates, presenter and disability advocate said: “Disability is a subject that is often dealt with in a really serious manner, which of course is sometimes needed. For those of us with disabilities though, it is important to see the light side of our impairments and many of us have hilariously awkward and unpredictable stories to tell that have often got us noticed for all the wrong reasons!

“Disability needs to be normalised, understood and accepted and campaigns like the one Maltesers has created are dong a fantastic job of making sure perspectives are changing.”

The ads were created after the MALTESERS® brand won a highly sought-after advertising slot during the Paralympic Games’ Opening Ceremony in a competition linked to Channel 4’s ‘Year of Disability’ and Superhumans Wanted initiative. The competition was designed to encourage brands and agencies to feature disability in their ad campaigns.

Notes to Editors

For further information please contact:
Alice Power, freuds
T: +44 (0) 20 3003 6469

About Mars Chocolate UK

In 1911, Frank C. Mars made the first Mars candies in his Tacoma, Washington kitchen and established Mars’ first roots as a confectionery company. In the 1920s, Forrest E. Mars, Sr. joined his father in business and together they launched the MILKY WAY® bar. In 1932, Forrest, Sr. moved to the United Kingdom with a dream of building a business based on the objective of creating a “mutuality of benefits for all stakeholders” – this objective serves as the foundation of Mars, Incorporated today. Based in McLean, Virginia, Mars has net sales of more than $33 billion, six business segments including Petcare, Chocolate, Wrigley, Food, Drinks, Symbioscience, and more than 72,000 Associates worldwide that are putting its Principles into action to make a difference for people and the planet through its performance.


For more information, please visit or contact the Mars Press Office at:, tel: 0203 003 6632 Follow us:,,,

About Channel 4 Superhumans Wanted

Launched at Advertising Week Europe as part of Channel 4’s Year of Disability, Channel 4’s Superhumans Wanted competition staked £1 million of its commercial airtime as a prize – with an exclusive launch spot in the 2016 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony – to encourage brands and media and creative agencies to prominently feature disability and disabled talent in their advertising campaigns.
Mars Chocolate UK and AMV BBDO were the overall winners selected from nearly 90 entries received from a broad range of brands and agencies.
The judging panel, chaired by Jonathan Allan, included: Tim Lefroy, CEO, Advertising Association; Claire Beale, Global Editor-in-Chief, Campaign; Tom Knox, President, IPA; Mike Hughes, Director General, ISBA; Chris Bovill & John Allison, Heads of 4Creative; and Dan Brooke, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Channel 4.

About Scope

Scope exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Until then, we’ll be here. We provide support, information and advice to more than a quarter of a million disabled people and their families every year. We raise awareness of the issues that matter to disabled people. Two-thirds of people feel awkward around disability. We want to end that.

About the adverts

Advert one: ‘New Boyfriend’

The first advert features Jo who has just met her new boyfriend. Jo is sitting at a table in outside with two of her girlfriends and they’re sharing a bag of MALTESERS®. Jo is in a power chair and has cerebral palsy; she is holding a packet of MALTESERS®. We join them mid-conversation. Jo goes on to describe the first time she gets intimate with her new boyfriend when all of a sudden, she has an uncontrollable spasm which he mistakes for something else! Jo mimes the situation to her friends who find it both shocking and hilarious in equal measure. Jo continues to mime the situation and holding a packet of MALTESERS®, shakes so violently that the MALTESERS® jump from the bag and fly all over the place. The final shot is of the girls laughing together and the tag line ‘Look on the Light Side’.

Advert two: ‘Theo’s Dog’

The second advert is set in a staff room at a school. Alison and Kate, two of the teachers, are both deaf. They are signing to each other whilst enjoying a cup of tea and a bag of MALTESERS®. The advert will be fully subtitled after initial un-subtitled airings. Kate begins to describe the evening before when she went round to Theo’s house. She tells Alison that he has a new dog that jumps up at her and accidentally knocks her hearing aid out. She then simulates the dog swallowing her hearing aid using a MALTESERS® as a prop. Alison looks aghast and asks what Theo said? Kate tells Alison that he said she could have it back sometime tomorrow! Alison clocks on and the girls laugh, while the audience is left wondering whether Kate was being serious and the tag line ‘Look on the Light Side’ appears.

Advert three: ‘Dance Floor’

The third advert is set in an office canteen. Two women and a man are catching up over a bag of MALTESERS®. One of them, Chrissy, is in a wheelchair. We join them mid-conversation. Chrissy starts to tell them about a wedding where she was a guest. All the guests were on the dance floor including her, dancing and enjoying them. Chrissy simulates the moment one of the wheels of her chair rolls over the bride’s foot, using a MALTESERS®. The MALTESERS® is crushed. Both friends look aghast. Chrissy finishes her story by explaining that it wasn’t all bad as she left with the Best Man’s number; all three of them laugh at her cheek while the tag line ‘Look on the Light Side’ appears.

1 Scope Disability In The Media Study 2012
2 Scope Disability In The Media Study 2016
3 Scope Disability In The Media Study 2012
4 Scope Disability In The Media Study 2012 center:news:news list