Free the Bid – an American advertising industry initiative aiming to level the playing field for female directors – just celebrated its first anniversary by expanding into Australia.
The campaign calls on ad agencies, brands, production companies and broadcasters to consider at least one female director for every ad project they realise. Directors' bids (or applications to work on a project) are assembled during pre-production, and it's common not to see any female directors included in the selection. Currently, only 9% of ads are directed by women.
US tech company HP became one of the first brand sponsors of the initiative in September 2016, when it sent a letter to its creative agencies tasking them with increasing the number of women and people of colour on their teams. In tune with this, HP has just released Reinvent Giving – the 2017 holiday contribution to its ongoing Keep Reinventing campaign. The two-minute short film was conceived by BBDO San Francisco and directed by Sara Dunlop, who was selected through Free the Bid.
Levi's, LinkedIn and Twitter are the latest brands to commit to the initiative. Michael Fassnacht, chief executive and president of Chicago-based ad agency FCB, said that taking part in the scheme had led to 95% of its productions including female bids, compared to just 40% before taking the pledge.
An inclusive workforce is beneficial to any organisation, but marketers and advertisers especially need to ensure that their creative teams are as diverse as the audience they're hoping to reach. For more on what companies can gain through inclusivity, see Diverse Talent, Superhero Staff – part of our Macro Trend The Work/Life Revolution.