Coca-Cola is part of a movement to even the playing field for female talent in the advertising industry. Last fall, the company pledged its support of #FreetheBid, which urges brands, agencies and production companies to include at least one female director in bids for TV commercials, print photoshoots and other creative projects.

“By signing the #FreetheBid petition, we commit that all of our ‘triple-bid’ projects will include at least one female,” said Sarah Traverso, Group Director, Social Center and IMC Production, Coca-Cola North America. “And by doing so, we hope to give more women a shot and hopefully over time grow a pipeline of female talent.”

During the bidding stage, ad agencies typically present clients with three directors per project. Most female directors lack competitive reels and, therefore, rarely make the cut. The #FreetheBid movement aims to change that.

“This is not about saying, ‘Let’s only give work to females’,” Traverso explained. “It’s about recognizing an imbalance in work granted to women directors, DPs (directors of photography), editors and other key roles in the production field that have traditionally been male dominated. There is a tremendous amount of female talent in our industry, so the hope is to create more visibility for these women and give them the chance to showcase their capabilities and have relevant work on hand when clients and agencies call.”

Traverso’s team reviews all bids and creative treatments from its network of agency partners and Coke’s in-house creative team. This includes work across the company’s extensive portfolio of brands. “We will not green light anything unless it adheres to the #FreetheBid policy,” she said.

#FreetheBid was founded in 2017 by Alma Har’el, an Israeli-American music video and film director who directed Coke’s 2018 “Big Game” ad, “The Wonder of Us.”

"I couldn’t have been an independent filmmaker and make the films I love if I didn’t make a living directing commercials,” Har’el writes on the #FreetheBid website. “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."

Traverso said she hopes Coke’s support of #FreetheBid – which aligns with the company’s core values – will encourage others to follow suit.

“We as a company proudly stand for diversity, inclusion and transparency and inherently believe in giving everyone equal opportunity when it comes to work on behalf of our brands. opens doors for those hard to get meeting or foot in door,” Traverso concluded. “We’ve found that when we give people a platform and open doors, we can create a pathway for them to step in and present themselves in way that hasn’t been possible before. We are still in the early days of this partnership, but we are excited to see where this will go.”