Black media execs are applauding a commitment by General Motors to invest more ad dollars in diverse owned media. The automaker has pledged to increase spend with Black-owned media to 2% in 2021, 4% in 2022 and 8% by 2025 as part of what Global Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl calls “a transformation plan which is focused on driving economic empowerment and supporting a sustainable diverse owned media ecosystem.”
GM’s initiative, announced Friday, includes major changes to how the company partners with both diverse-owned and diverse-targeted media. The plan encompasses overall spend, spend distribution, measurement, deal structure and infrastructure development. The auto giant says the new approach will apply to a broad range of diverse media.
It follows pressure by Byron Allen and other Black media moguls claiming that GM ignored Black-owned media outlets. And it comes after an April 13 virtual meeting between the leadership of GM and NABOB members, representing the largest Black owned broadcast companies.
“General Motors’ commitment and investment in diverse media is both transformative and comprehensive along with a foundation rooted in sustainability,” said Sherman Kizart, Managing Director of Kizart Media, who has been working with Wahl over the past month.
Urban One CEO Alfred Liggins applauded the auto giant for turning the results of their “thoughtful and robust discussions” with minority media outlets into a “thorough, bold and transformational plan” to increase engagement with diverse media entities. “Urban One is the leading platform to reach African American and urban consumers, and we have been delighted with our long and successful partnership with GM,” Liggins said in a statement. “Today’s announcement will allow our platforms and other diverse media groups to create unique and customized ways for GM to reach their customer base.”
James Winston, President of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, called GM’s commitment a very important step. “By laying out a commitment to substantially increase their spending with Black owned media, GM recognized that the long-term solutions for reaching true diversity, equity and inclusion in all aspects of our society must include a commitment from corporate America to do much more business with Black owned businesses,” Winston said. “Black communities can never break the cycle of poverty unless Black owned businesses move into the mainstream of American business.”
Wahl said the action plan will transform how GM works with diverse media in a sustainable way. “Over the course of several weeks, we met with many diverse-owned media organizations, she said. “We are grateful for the transparency and spirit of collaboration, which helped us frame this inclusive approach.”
The National Newspaper Publishers Association also signaled it support. “The new GM action plan, including stated commitments to increase advertising spends with African American-owned newspapers and other African American-owned media, is good news for Black America,” said Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., president and CEO, NNPA.
Friday’s announcement follows GM’s pledge in June 2020, as part of the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing, to commit to equality, inclusion and systemic change in advertising. Specifically, its action plan comprises five components:
1. Strengthened Commitment
• Increased Diverse Media Spend – GM has increased its overall diverse media spend, including doubling its commitment for spending with Black-owned media to 2 percent in 2021 and 4 percent in 2022, with a goal of reaching 8 percent by 2025.
2. Deeper Engagements
• Diverse-Owned Media Summit – On May 14, GM will hold a dedicated upfront with diverse media owners ahead of the traditional media marketplace. The summit will encourage existing and potential partners to submit an overview of their business for consideration by GM for deeper engagements beyond the summit, including a request for proposal. The process that will be used for the selection of media will be accredited by a third party to ensure fairness and transparency.
3. Sustainable Growth
• Diverse Marketing Incubator Fund – GM is allocating $50 million over 10 years to support and scale diverse marketing companies. This investment will support sustainable growth and is incremental to GM’s media spend.
4. Increased Flexibility
• Inclusive Measurement Rubric – With the benefit of input from diverse media, GM established measurement criteria that will allow for more flexibility based on the size and scale of the media organization. GM’s priority, in collaboration with diverse media, is to create a win-win for the diverse media companies and GM.
5. Expanded Opportunities
• Prospective Partnering Analysis – GM and its media buying agencies will use a multi-factor analysis for selection of diverse media. The analysis utilizes new criteria for assessing capabilities, reach and analytics to drive more opportunity for diverse media.