Diageo began asking for gender diversity information earlier
this year, Gráinne Wafer, global brand director for Baileys,
said in July during an appearance at the Diversity in Marketing
& Advertising Summit in London. But Wafer said when she started
seeking the information she was "met with some blank faces,"
coverage of the summit by The Drum.
"Some people are able to say 'I know exactly what it is, here's
ours.' Or 'we're not there yet but we have a plan'. That's all I
want to hear. That you have a plan," she said, without naming
specific agencies, according to The Drum.
Saller's letter appears to be a way to put more pressure on the
agencies to cooperate. While the letter sends a strong message,
Diageo at this point has not laid out any specific targets or
outlined consequences for shops that are not living up to gender
diversity expectations, the company confirmed.
Beth Wade, global chief marketing officer at VMLY&R, said in
an emailed statement to Ad Age: "Like Diageo, we strongly believe
diversity enables better creative and more effective work. We have
received the recent letter from Diageo and will be submitting our
response." She pointed to diversity efforts the agency participates
in, including 3% Certification and Free the Bid, which is pushing
for more female ad directors.
Wade added: "As part of the Baileys global digital
agency-of-record selection process earlier this year, we showcased
these diversity efforts to the team. We look forward to working
with Diageo on their efforts to achieve gender balance and
diversity in advertising."
Anomaly and 72andSunny, two of Diageo's largest creative
agencies, declined to comment directly on the Diageo letter.
72andSunny publishes its gender diversity stats on its website. It
shows that 20 percent of the agency's creative directors globally
are women, while 45 percent of employees at group director level
and above are females. Carat declined comment.
Diageo has among the best track records for gender diversity in
the alcohol industry. Women comprise 40 percent of its executive
committee, while 45 percent of Diageo's senior global marketing
leaders are women. Earlier this year Diageo joined the Free the Bid
organization, pledging to call on its ad agencies and content
producers to include at least one female director on all creative
bids. Also, Diageo recently developed a framework that it will use
to improve gender portrayal in its marketing.
Diageo drew headlines in February when it put a woman
on the face of Johnnie Walker bottles, calling her "Jane
Walker," as part of a limited-edition run timed with Women's