Diageo, whose brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal,
Smirnoff and Guinness, is the 12th marketer to join Free the Bid,
according to a list
published at freethebid.com. Others include HP, Coca-Cola,
eBay, Levi's, Visa and Toys R Us.
Diageo is the first alcohol marketer to join the organization.
Still, the group has yet to snare committments from within major
sectors such as automotive, one of the biggest-spending categories
in the ad industry.
The group has greater representation from ad agencies, with 60
shops listed at the site. Dozens of production companies have also
In signing the pledge, marketers commit to asking agencies and
producers to include one bid from a woman on every ad produced.
Agencies pledge to "have a woman director's option considered, to
the best of your ability, when triple-bidding a production for a
Free the Bid was founded in September 2016 by female director
Alma Har'el. On its website, the organization maintains a searchable database of
ads directed by women.
Har'el in a statement said Diageo's inclusion marks a "big day"
for her organization. "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," she said. "With Diageo's pledge, we're thrilled about
the incredible opportunities that will open up for women directors
Diageo says it doesn't have statistics on how many of its ads
have been directed by women, though a spokeswoman notes that a
recent ad for its Baileys brand from ad agency Mother was directed
by Cloè Bailley. Last year Johnnie Walker used a female
director, Emily Kai Bock,
for a pro-immigration ad by Anomaly.
Diageo framed Thursday's announcement as part of a larger
diversity effort. The marketer says women comprise 40% of its
executive committee and that its 10-person board of directors will
reach gender parity in April 2018 when former Xerox Corp. CEO Ursula Burns joins.