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Meet 10 Female Directors Helping Close the Gender Gap in Adland

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It’s no secret that female creatives have been overlooked, under employed and under utilised in the film, music, and media industries for decades. Even with the onslaught of rising female creators and content being driven towards the female demographic, women are still being passed over for creative roles and directing opportunities. 

With the immersion of Diversity and Inclusion programs across multiple companies, women still struggle to have their voices heard and to be taken as seriously as their male counterparts.

Women make up more than HALF of the world and creative population. However, only 7% of all directors in the advertising industry are women, (and those are just the ones working). That means we are underrepresenting 50% of the people worldwide. None of this is new information, but in a world where women are still not being given the same opportunities as men, especially when in the media industry, what can we do to change that?

Organizations like Free The Work (formerly known as Free The Bid) are helping shine light on this matter. Founded in 2016 by the award-winning director Alma Har’el, as a non-profit organization, Free the Bid has been holding the advertising industry accountable for their bidding practices on commercial jobs. Advertising agencies are often tasked with “triple bidding” on their projects, the “Free The Bid” pledge encourages ad agencies and brands to have at least one female director (or female-owned company) considered among the three potential candidates for a commercial directing job. This pledge has encouraged not only agencies and brands to take note of female talent, but also has prompted production companies to sign more female talent to their rosters. Alma says that they have gone from 0% to 59% female directors on projects in 18 months of Free The Bid. See the original article here.

As a tribute to the ever-growing 7%, we would like to celebrate the 10 most recent spots filmed by female directors, published during the course of winter 2021.

1. Traditions Shared – Panda Express

“Traditions Shared” is a heartwarming tale that pushes your emotional buttons so smoothly that you feel tender throughout. Here, Panda Express calls everyone to celebrate the lunar new year together as a family, with delicious traditional food. 

Jordan, a young local boy who lives in a diverse neighborhood, is introduced to the Chinese culture from a young age. The kid visits his Chinese neighbor, Mr. Lee, during the lunar new year. He is amazed by the food and the traditions in this family environment. Shortly after, we see that the young boy grew up to be an adult and visits his neighbor on another lunar new year after many years. He rings the bell and leaves a Panda Express dish in front of his neighbor’s door.

As Mr. Lee hears the bell and walks outside, Jordan surprises him with the Chinese expression, “xīnnián kuàilè” (happy new year), that he learned when he first visited him. After a heartwarming conversation, Jordan comes back to his house and celebrates the lunar new year, eating Panda Express with his wife and kids. 

Erica Eng is a Chinese American director from Oakland, currently based in Los Angeles. She won Best SHOUT Film at the Sidewalk Film Festival with her movie “POISON.” She has also had other projects displayed in festivals like HollyShorts, Atlanta Film Festival, and New Orleans Film Festival. Erica is a visual storyteller who grew up in a diverse community, aiming to reflect her past in her works. With this spot, she managed to attract a lot of attention through the web, getting over 2 million views on Youtube.

2. We Are All Investors – Robinhood

We often interpret the word “investment” only as financial transactions. This spot speaks of other types of investments that everyone makes at some point in their lives. 

Whether it be running to invest in your body, looking after your baby, opening up a store, or flirting with a potential partner, the ad claims that almost all of our choices are types of investments meaning that everyone is an investor by nature. 

Having won many international awards (from Cannes Lions, Webbys, Clios, Andys, D&AD, One Show, Tellys) for both film and commercials, Nina Meredith has filmed professional content in more than 30 countries. She is one of the three female directors whose work has taken place as a Superbowl 2021 commercial. Nina is recognized by her captivating frames that are communicated through dynamic coloring and closeness. 

In this spot, Nina adequately touches on the non-financial transactions in our lives that we never saw as investments with an intimate and vibrant lens. Each scene appeals to a different emotive state and a demographic, which allows it to be relatable to anyone in Robinhood’s target audience.

3. Conversations For Change – Linkedin

According to the research by the professional network, almost half of the Black professionals aged between 18 to 34 are dealing with discrimination and micro-aggressions in their workspace. This spot aims to make awareness of the experiences of the businessmen and women of color who dealt with these sickening situations. 

The video consists of a compilation of conversations with African American business professionals about how they were treated at the workplace and their mental health after these events took place. “Conversation For Change” includes these people’s hopes for belonging, unbiased representation, opportunities, and the way forward. 

Nadia Hallgren is an award-winning director based in New York. She has recently been nominated for four Emmys after directing Becoming, her latest documentary about the former first lady Michelle Obama. She is renowned for her documentary-style filming that touches upon powerful real-life stories, which is also the case in this spot. Nadia comments, “The creative for this was inspired by the stories and experiences we share as Black professionals. The determination we have to fulfill our dreams, while being ourselves and lifting each other up along the way. It is important to speak the truth of what it feels like to be Black in the workplace, to share our stories and experiences, not just with the world but with each other.”

Read more on the original article here.

4. Come Clean to Close the Chore Gap – Procter & Gamble

Procter & Gamble is calling people to tidy up their houses with equal effort from everyone who lives in it. The campaign follows the news that in 65% of homes, most chores fall on one person, and 63% of them are female. The disproportionality of housework between genders is called the chore gap. Accordingly, the main message is directed to men, aiming to encourage them to step up and close this gap.

In the ad, there is a family with two kids and a dog running around and leaving a mess in the house. The mother is trying to clean all the chores by herself, but suddenly the husband comes in for help, as the whole family starts tidying up the place… yes, including the dog. 

Victoria Rivera is a Colombian filmmaker based in New York. She won awards from festivals such as Champs Elysées Film Festival, Bogotá Short Film Festival, and Traverse City Film Festival. Victoria tells stories of people who are changing the world, no matter how big or small the change. In this Super Bowl commercial, she amplifies the idea that sharing the chores affects mental health and relationships with others in the household. 

5. The North Face – The North Face x Gucci

An indie-like reel that takes place in a forest with some models hanging out, watching nature, reading books, and dancing. The advertised products are so eye-catching that the director didn’t bother capturing them in full detail with close-ups. Instead, she concentrates on presenting the chill, feel-good vibe that is aimed to be associated with these brands. 

Fiona Jane Burgess is a London-based filmmaker, performer, musician, and proud feminist. Her film career started by directing music videos for her band, Woman’s Hour. Burgess won a Silver Young Director Award at Cannes Lion 2019. She specializes in documentary and fiction style, blending movement and dance as the main theme in her projects. She also incorporated these motifs on movement and dance in this commercial, displayed by a quirky camera handling reminiscent of Wes Anderson movies. 

6. Understanding Changes Everything – Babbel

The ad consists of short cuts of struggles and excitements that come with learning a new language. Here, Babbel highlights how conversations in other languages can help improve our personal lives and careers. 

Charlotte Moore, the creative director, shares her thoughts on the message of the reel in Babbel’s press release saying, “[learning a new language] enhances what you understand about yourself and the world around you. When you put people together who share that experience, the possibilities of change for the better increase dramatically. Understanding is a power for good, and Babbel takes the responsibility of spreading it through language-learning very seriously.”

Marie Schuller is a German director based in London. She has attracted international audiences and received awards from festivals and events such as The Books Creative Awards, ASVOFF and FFF Milano. Like this one, her commercials often include fast cuts and close-up shots on faces. She occasionally experiments with dividing the screen into two to capture more dynamism in her work. Babbel’s spot was an appropriate brief for her to make the most of this theme. She shows the long-distance communication between Babbel users with a line that separates the screen into two parties, eventually fading it out as they start to meet up in real life.

7. Everything Is Possible – Guinness

In football, no matter how skilled the team is, there is always the possibility of losing. That’s what makes it intriguing. Here, Guinness aims to be associated with the excitement and anticipation a fan feels when watching a football game.

The ad takes place in a bar full of people watching the match. We see on the TV that the ball is gliding in the air in slow-motion, heading towards the goal. The camera cuts back and forth between the ball and the fans who are roused for the possibility of a goal. After a tense buildup, the goal is scored, the tension is resolved, and the supporters are all fired up, celebrating.

Nicole Ackermann is a detail-oriented filmmaker known for fusing visual storytelling with an intense intuitive approach to performance. Within years of directing, she worked with many big brands such as Gillette, Samsung, Lexus, The Economist, and American Airlines. In this reel, Nicole elevates the feeling of anticipation by using fast transitions between slow-motion and fast-motion while including many close-ups of fans with a neon blue light shimmering on their faces.

8. Good Things Come to Those Who Don’t Wait – Bumble

The story follows a single woman talking about her future ideal boyfriend. She has many expectations from this imaginary guy. While daydreaming about him, she gets a match on Bumble. In the next scene, we see them playing ukulele and singing together on their first date while she waggles her eyebrows, looking at the camera – Hint, Hint. 

Lula Cucchiara is an Argentine director based in New Zealand. Her experience in diverse art genres (film, fashion photography) brings a slick, uneasy beauty to her projects. However, in this reel, Lula shows that she can also handle agreeable, lighthearted content that goes easy on the viewers’ eyes. The warm, bright colors, combined with the main character’s comedic monologue, set a soft, comfy mood throughout the spot.

9. Kidult Approved – Hyundai Palisade

Kids grow up fast. As a parent, it is only a matter of seconds that you can find your kid growing a mustache, have occasional voice cracks and become a selfie addict. At least, that is the case in this ad. 

This absurd comedy sketch starts with the mother taking her kids to the school with the very handsome Hyundai Palisade. During this short car ride, the children grow up to become “Kidults” (matured kids, but not enough to be called an adult). They get taller, start shaving, and even one of them rips through his shoes because of his feet that grew a few inches in 3 seconds. When they finally get to the destination, we see a priceless close-up shot on the mother’s startled face while she watches her kids walk to school. 

Fiona McGee is a director based in Australia who has received awards in Cannes, D&AD, and London International Awards. She is known for presenting everyday events with a humorous touch. Fiona is especially skilled at representing human behavior with honesty and comedic absurdity without deviating from the main message. In this reel, too, her style brings up a charming spirit that surely would put a smile on anyone’s faces, be it a parent or not.

10. 2021, The Year of Great Food – Deliveroo

An action-packed reel about food. From Chinese to hamburgers, it showcases many different food categories with tasty imagery and fast transitions between them. So fast and attention-grabbing that it won’t let you look away. Throughout, Deliveroo doesn’t hold back on committing to powerful adjectives for food and their expectations for 2021, as they say, “This is the year of great food, brought to you by Deliveroo.”

Helen Downing is a director and producer who is recognized for her tasty close-up shots on food. This time she went for a movie trailer-style production. The keywords are in caps and right at your face with the heart-racing music that can be found in most marvel movie trailers.

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