Putting women-founded creative agencies on the pitch list

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 8 March 2019
Bec Brideson

This first appeared in the AdNews March 2019 magazine. Support AdNews by subscribing here.

When looking at the history of advertising globally, there’s a glaring omission of female owners across holding groups and agencies.

To help change this, founder and ECD of Venus Comms, Bec Brideson, launched the Women With Agency project which advocates for gender smart procurement reform.

In seeking to “take the temperature” of attitudes in marketing procurement, Women With Agency asks brands to support women-founded creative agencies by putting them on their pitch list.

Brands can pledge support and also take a survey to share more about what they currently do.

Check out our investigation with LIDA into the representation on women in advertising over the decades HERE

The aim of the survey is to gain insight into current pitch methods and help provide greater visibility and opportunity for female-owned agencies in the creative industries.

Brideson said an important first step in this process is to understand how marketers are currently going about selecting and appointing agencies.

She is calling on marketers, brand CEOs, procurement officers, intermediaries and anyone who appoints agencies and puts pitch lists together, to get involved and support women-founded creative agencies.

“We are looking at why women-owned agencies haven’t thrived like their rivals and what are the best methods going forward to change that?” Brideson said.

“I’d love marketers from every industry to participate and honestly share their procurement practices – the good, the bad and the lack thereof.”

Brideson said female-owned businesses in Australia are growing, but more needs to be done to better support these women.
Brideson, who has worked at agencies such as JWT, DDB and BWM Dentsu, wants marketers to take part as they are “the game-changers, visionaries and the ones in power”.

“They’re the ones who can shape the future and make changes and demand better from their agencies and suppliers,” she said.

Referring to top and outspoken marketers such as P&G’s Marc Pritchard, Diageo’s Syl Saller and Facebook’s Antonio Lucios, Brideson said we need more CMOs in Australia fighting for a better future.

“We need more Australian businesses like Diageo putting their agencies on notice about the kinds of cultures they choose to work with,” Brideson said.

“We’d love to hear about how marketers procure their own teams internally and then how this differs from the procurement of supply teams externally.

“Right now, there are no numbers, or qualitative survey data around why and how we can get more female-owned agencies started and supported.”

Thinking back to the adage “we value what we measure”, Brideson said that’s what the survey is about – looking at what marketers and clients can do to support and encourage women-owned agencies on their rosters.

With more than 150 responses so far, Brideson said it’s clear that heavily promoted internal values such as equality, diversity, inclusion of a business may have been applied to the marketing function, but have been clearly left out in the procurement of its suppliers.

She said many marketers have expressed a desire to change that but acknowledge that with demands piling on, there is no resource to support it. 

“No one is valuing or measuring the importance of supplier diversity, until now,” she said.

Brideson said she was particularly encouraged to launch the survey after her own agency went through several blind pitch environments on Australian Federal Government tenders.

“Women-owned businesses are unable to compete when it’s about a network of decision-makers that you can’t even get access to. My main goal is to change that, and to level it not just in government, but throughout corporate Australia,” she adds.

Brideson also wants to engage with the Federal Government in creating a similar program to the Obama Administration around procurement, just as they have already done with Indigenous suppliers and suppliers who provide a social benefit to the wider community.

“The timing is more than right especially in light of the many other initiatives that have risen to the fore,” she said.

“It’s also time that female-owned agencies and businesses stop playing off Broadway and are given the chance to play in the big leagues. They are more than ready.”

See here for more information or to take part. 

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