FREE THE BID is an Initiative guaranteeing women directors an equal opportunity to bid on commercial jobs in the advertising world. Less than 7% of directors are women, and less than 3% of creative directors at ad agencies are women. These numbers are hard to swallow for 50% of the world’s population, especially when the Harvard business review and many publications suggest that women are and the NUMBER 1 consumer group that makes for 85% of product purchase decisions.

Problem: A cycle that keeps women from being considered. At the bidding stage, ad agencies typically present the brand with three directors >> Most women don’t get a chance to build competitive reels after years of gender bias >> Ad agencies end up with 3 male directors bids >> Production companies don’t have incentive to sign women directors.

Solution: Ad agencies, production companies and brands pledge together to get one woman director bid on EVERY job and #FreeTheBid!

Alma Har’el, director of the award-winning documentaries Bombay Beach and LoveTrue, was inspired to ignite change when giving a recent interview to Mashable about the low number of female-helmed commercials.

“There is nothing covert about the discrimination of women when you see the numbers.”
Har’el told Mashable.

PJ Pereira, CCO and co-founder of Pereira & O’Dell, has worked with Har’el when she directed two national campaigns for Airbnb. He reached out to her after her Mashable interview to express how much her words inspired him, and to tell her he had decided to get a mandatory bid from a woman director on every pitch at his agency as a result of reading her interview.

Pereira said, “It’s a simple idea that would force the entire ecosystem to consider women directors. The whole corporate world needs to fix its diversity issue. Because it’s the right thing to do but also because it’s a good idea. Creativity is usually explained as “thinking outside the box”. It is easier to achieve creativity through diversity. Embracing multiple genders, different races and sexual orientations are all important because they help make companies and brands more creative, empathetic and representative of their customers.”

Har’el who was moved by the idea decided to try and get all ad agencies, production companies and brands to take the pledge for a woman director bid on every commercial.

“I’m starting #freethebid so the ad industry can come together and take an affirmative step towards addressing what stops advertisers from working with women directors. i couldn’t have been an independent filmmaker and make the films i love if i didn’t make a living directing commercials. i want to make sure other women filmmakers have the same chance to sustain themselves while being creative and shaping the way women are represented in advertising. we have to start the change right now in the only practical and effective way – let women be heard.

Prior to its official launch, Several of the world’s leading advertising agencies have already pledged to #FreeTheBid; BBDO Global, FCB Global, Pereira &O’Dell, Mother, J. Walter Thompson, 180LA, Joan, Phenomenon and DDB– all committed to get a woman bid on every job!

Har’el who was always a fan of Spike Jonze’s ability to keep his own voice as a filmmaker while directing unforgettable commercials, reached out to him as a male example to what inspired her to direct commercials her self. After long conversations with women directors and leading ad agencies Har’el gathered what she believes are easy solutions to some of the problems that keep agencies from finding the right women for the job.

The #FreeTheBid website will gather over 130 signed women directors from all leading production companies including links to their reels and producers, it will curate new unsigned directors on a monthly basis, organized screenings for ad agencies who want to discover female directors and a system that will allow to keep track of the work that’s being done by women as a result of the initiative are also in the works, as well as events to showcase the work created from Free The Bid’s success stories.

“There are incredibly capable and talented women on the site, but we all know that without the commitment from ad agencies and brands, this would have been just another database of women who deserve a chance. my wish is that the agencies will be able to report positive results and see a real change in numbers a year from now.”

Susan Credle Global CCO of FCB who was one of the first to join the Initiative and helped Har’el reach some of the more prominent agencies says –

“To find great female directors, first, you have to look for them. It’s that simple. #FreeTheBid reminds us all to open our eyes to the less obvious but perhaps even more brilliant choice.”