Have you ever seen a one year old who can run?

Thank you to all  of you who made this possible by working with us every day.

That’s right, our little initiative that could is celebrating its first year in action. What a year it’s been!

What started out as a conversation on gender inequality between our founder Alma Har’el and PJ Pereira of Pereira & O’Dell has grown since September 2016 into a massive global movement, with support from pledged agencies, brands, and directors all over the world.

“Since committing to Free the Bid in November 2016,” said Glenn Cole, Creative Co-Chair and Founder of global ad agency 72andSunny, “half of our competitive triple bids in film and photography were awarded to women who clearly had the best approach and merit. Free the Bid works.”

Michael Fassnacht, CEO & President of FCB, reported that since pledging to Free The Bid, they’ve included a woman director for consideration in 95% of their production bids, as opposed to only 40% prior to taking the pledge. A woman director was awarded the job on 30% of the projects.

In addition to the amazing statistics and case studies that we have received, showing how Free The Bid’s pledge is truly WORKING, one of the best birthday gifts of all came from longtime supporters HP. At a recent “Business Powered By Diversity” event during Advertising Week New York, HP CMO Antonio Lucio announced HP’s renewed fiscal support of our initiative. This generous contribution is proof of HP’s commitment to the promotion of diversity in the ad industry workforce, demonstrated through action.

“HP was the first sponsor for Free The Bid, and I consider Alma a true pioneer and innovator,” said Antonio Lucio. “We are thrilled to continue to support this essential organization as we work collectively to drive systemic change in our industry. We share a goal with Free the Bid which is to see more women sitting in the director’s chair. Diversity is a business imperative and leads to more authentic and creative outcomes reflective of the communities we serve.”

Joining HP in providing financial support is agency BBDO, who has been pledged since last year.

“We’ve seen firsthand how ‘Free the Bid’ opens up new opportunities for female talent and improves the quality of the work,” said BBDO President and CEO Andrew Robertson. “We’re happy to support it.”

Free The Bid founder Alma Har’el says of the initiative’s success and HP’s support: “Free The Bid proves that it takes positive action to be agents of change. The roots of gender inequality run deep and we are making it easier for people to discover women directors by working together with the whole industry. The drastic change in numbers is a result of many women AND men working together. The support of HP and Antonio Lucio has made it possible for me to take this initiative, which started on my laptop, and expand it from a conversation about Ad land’s gender imbalance into a global movement. Now that we’re about to venture into our second year, our focus is going to be on increasing the number of women directors of color, and creating opportunities for more brands and ad agencies to implement Free The Bid around the world.”

The past year has seen a global rollout of Free The Bid, spearheaded by its Executive Director Emma Reeves, former creative director of MOCAtv. In less than a year, the Free The Bid initiative has gone from the US to being launched in Brazil, the UK, South Africa, and announced by Cindy Gallop in Australia, with plans for further expansion of the model into other territories. In each new territory, Free The Bid brings on board a high profile woman director to act as an ambassador, and are thrilled to announce that Kim Gehrig will be Free The Bid’s ambassador for the U.K.

Also just in time for our first birthday, we are happy to report that 3 new brands have taken the pledge to Free The Bid: Levi’s, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

“We must #freethebid and empower female directors to tell our story, and the stories that define us,” said Twitter CMO Leslie Berland.

Jennifer Sey, CMO of Levi’s, contributed, “I’m all about equal access to opportunity. Free The Bid is a tool to help us all overcome hidden bias and provide equal opportunity for women. Who can argue with that? I know I support it – for me, my daughter, and all the hard working women I know.”

We’re so grateful for the support and excited to keep growing. Check out some of what’s been accomplished over the past year and celebrate with us!!

  • Over 400 women directors are now featured in our database, with new profiles being added constantly. Directors can be filtered by skill set and location, in order to help find the perfect director for ANY job, large or small.
  • Pledges from 40+ global ad agencies, including BBDO Global, FCB Global, J. Walter Thompson Global, Y&R Global, McCann Global, Pereira & O’Dell, Saatchi & Saatchi LA, Campbell Ewald and DDB. 
  • 10 pledges from major brands, including long-term supporters such as HP, Visa, and eBay; and exciting new pledges from Airbnb, Levi’s, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
  • 6 global territories where we have launched, along with talent women directors acting as ambassadors for Free The Bid in each. Check out our new Ambassadors page to see more!
  • As much as a 400% increase in jobs directed by women, reported by pledged agencies CP+B and BBDO. Click on each name for more stats from each!

Above all, we measure our success in the opportunities we’ve created for the community of talented, diverse women that we’re happy to call the Free The Bid family.

“#Freethebid has made a dramatic impact in my career,” said director Ramaa Moseley. “I have seen the board flow increase by 40%. Agencies and brands are reaching out to me for creative projects that I have been dreaming on working on. My work is very action and story driven which is work that men normally get so pushing to get bid has been the great challenge. I am grateful to #Freethebid for their powerful initiative, as it’s making a difference.”

Director Molly Schiot described Free The Bid as being, “the most important step that has been made in my career as a director.”

Thank you SO much for being a part of our exciting roller-coaster of a first year – we can’t wait to see how much more we can build together!