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The agency that wins General Mills' creative account must meet the brand's diversity requirements

General Mills has introduced a strict set of diversity requirements for agencies pitching to win its US advertising business, announcing that the creative departments of competing firms must be staffed with at least 50 per cent women and 20 per cent people of color.

The brand, which spent $186 million on marketing in the first quarter of this year according to Kantar Media, opened a review of its creative account in July.

General Mills' chief marketing officer Anne Simonds, who is running the review alongside chief creative officer Michael Fanuele, told AdAge during an interview that the pitching process is not as closed as first previously thought, and that the company has proceded to put agencies not on its current roster through to the second round.

Mother and Deutsch are competing against 72andsunny, McCann and a holding company solution from Publicis Groupe according to the magazine.

She also said that as part of a diversity push, the company is only considering agencies which have at least a 50-50 male to female split in their creative departments. The stipulation also requires that at least one fifth of the company's creative staff is made of people of colour.

Simonds said General Mills was "very excited" about the diversity element of the picth.

"If you are going to put people you serve first, the most important thing is to live up to it and make it a key criteria," she added.

Fanuele, meanwhile, said: "Agencies are fairly diverse in account and strategic planning, but not with the people who are making the work," adding that the brand's requirements were "rare" and felt like an industry first.

Currently, General Mills main agencies are Saatchi & Saatchi and McCann, it said that the goal of its creative review is to find a "core" agency to handle the majority of its output, and to "supplement with other partners, which might be technology platforms or media partners."