Diageo supports female directors by joining ‘Free the Bid’

An image from a Baileys ad directed by Cloé Bailly

Diageo has joined Free the Bid, a nonprofit that advocates for female directors.

Brands who join Free the Bid do so on the condition that they will ask their ad agency partners and content producers to include one female director on all bids. According to figures from Diageo, less than 7% of directors are women and only 9% of commercials are directed by women. Free the Bid was founded in 2016 by Alma Har’el to raise those numbers.

“As advertisers we have the power to normalise gender equality by what we choose to show in our ads, and who we choose to produce them,” said Diageo chief marketing officer Syl Saller in a statement. “The advertising industry is moving in the right direction to achieving greater gender diversity, but it must move quicker. I’m delighted to pledge to Free the Bid. Our support is consistent with Diageo’s belief that businesses that value diversity perform better.”

The move is part of a larger diversity push at Diageo. According to the liquor giant, its board of directors will reach gender parity this April when Ursula Burns, former chief executive of Xerox, joins.

Diageo is the 12th company to join Free the Bid. Others include Airbnb, Visa, Coca-Cola and HP.

“Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Smirnoff and the many other brands under the Diageo umbrella have been leading the advertising world with some of the coolest advertisements out there for decades,” said Har’el in a statement. “With Diageo's pledge, we're thrilled about the incredible opportunities that will open up for women directors globally. Diageo and their creative agencies are about to discover the most untapped pool of creative talent in the ad industry - women directors. We look forward to seeing the results of this unprecedented collaboration. This is a big day for our Free The Bid family and all the women who are ready to be heard by a brand that is committed to actual change.”

The Martin Agency added its name to Free the Bid earlier this month, pledging to have a woman director’s option considered when triple-bidding a production for a client.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.