Diageo puts spotlight on lack of gender equality in advertising

The drinks giant is launching a short film to coincide with International Women’s Day as part of ongoing efforts to normalise gender equality through who it features in its ads and who it chooses to make them.

Diageo is putting the spotlight on the lack of gender equality in advertising with a short film that aims to air the issues around inclusion and diversity in marketing.

Launched ahead of International Women’s Day, the film discusses the role of advertising in shaping culture, the historic misrepresentation of women, and strategies and partnerships to support more progressive gender portrayal in content.

It also focuses on the importance of diversity in the advertising industry itself, highlighting the organisations working to address imbalances behind the camera and in creative departments.

“Through the millennia, culture has been shaped by the stories we tell and if you think about it advertising is telling stories that are backed by billions of dollars to have them heard,” Diageo’s CMO Syl Saller says.

“I am convinced we can normalise gender equality with what we choose to show in our ads, and who we choose to make them. We strongly believe that diverse teams create all kinds of different stories, stories which portray men and women as they really are, stories that are eminently relatable.”

The film is released as 50 women take part in the Creative Equals ‘Returners’ scheme. #CreativeComeback. The scheme, backed by the UK Government Equalities Office, is designed to support women in the creative industries in the UK as they return to work after a career break of at least 12 months. The ultimate aim is to place female art directors, producers, copywriters, data analysts, designers and concept creators back into work.

READ MORE: Nationwide’s CMO – Workplace equality can help stem marketing’s looming recruitment crisis

Diageo is a sponsor of the scheme and the group of returners will work on briefs for two of its global brands, Baileys and Guinness.

The drinks giant also joined the ‘Free The Bid’ initiative earlier this year, which is trying to tackle the gender gap in the advertising industry. It calls on brands and agencies to put forward at least one option for a female director as part of the bidding process at a time when just 7% of directors are female and only 9% of commercials are directed by women.

In January, Diageo was recognised in the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index and in 2018 it was named by Thomson Reuters as the fourth most inclusive and diverse company in the world and ranked by Equileap as the best company in the UK for gender equality.

Hide Comments1 Show Comment
  • Chris Nadin 7 Mar 2019 at 8:49 am

    As an ex international brand director for Diageo, I am delighted to see the company at the forefront on gender equality.
    Even in my day Diageo was better than most in this area and has nurtured and developed a great number of outstanding female managers and directors.

  • Post a comment

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here