In April, General Motors made a commitment to invest more ad dollars in diverse-owned media. Speaking at the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters’ Power of Urban Radio conference last week, top execs from the auto giant provided an update on their plans to fulfill that promise. “We did make a bold promise,” CEO Mary Barra said in an interview with Chesley Maddox-Dorsey, CEO of A Wonder Media/AURN. Specifically, the automaker pledged to increase spend with Black-owned media to 2% in 2021, 4% in 2022 and 8% by 2025.
Acting on suggestions that they consider doing multiyear deals, Barra said the automaker is “working on multi-year agreements as we speak. As soon as we finalize those, and we come to all the mutually agreeable terms, we'll be able to announce something more specific. We hope that that will happen in the next few weeks,” she added.
Three-Year Commitment To NABOB
In addition, GM has made a three-year commitment to sponsor the NABOB conference for the next three years. And it established a multi-year agreement with NABOB overall. That began with support for the nine-episode audio series “More Than That with Gia Peppers,” developed in collaboration with the ad agency Dentsu and One Solution, the branded solution division of Urban One. “That’s all been new spending this year that has really changed the way we've been able to look at things,” Barra said.
As one of its first partners, Barra credited NABOB with helping put its spending plan into action. She traced it back to meetings they had with NABOB President Jim Winston and Black radio company owners to help establish key parameters. Barra also revealed that NABOB will be the first recipient of funding from GM’s marketing incubator fund.
“The conversations have been great,” said Barra. “We've seen the need to dedicate some support to diverse-owned media organizations so that they can actually support the industry overall in growth. So we'll be coming back with more details on that as well.”
GM’s initiative, announced in late April, 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.
Global Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl expanded on those changes, which go far beyond allocating more ad dollars to diverse-owned media companies. “We think it's critical that we can drive growth, not just increased media spend, which is a core component of what we're working to do, but also see that there's success in the whole diverse-owned and Black-owned ecosystem overall,” Wahl said. “We want to see companies grow and that will help us be able to work more successfully.”
Acknowledging that General Motors has “a lot of scale,” Wahl said the company needs companies that “can help grow with us so that they can actually deliver at scale.” GM has had “lots of really, really good conversations about what enables that,” she added.
Measurement Under Scrutiny
Not only has GM changed the way it looks at potential partners, the company is also scrutinizing the way that it views measurement. “We’re looking at measurement in all kinds of different ways,” Wahl continued. “But in the end, success will be seeing that there's growth in the diverse owned media ecosystem, and then that, in turn, helps fuel growth for General Motors.”
Wahl admitted that the deliberate approach the massive corporation is taking to meet its commitment to diverse-owned media may seem to be taking too long to come to fruition. But it includes developing what she called “a comprehensive engagement process” to ensure that its efforts are thorough and fair. “If we're going to be inclusive, and make sure that we have growth, it's got to be really fair to Black-owned media and other diverse owned media as well.”
GM’s marketing team is now in the process of dealing with specific diverse-owned briefs – not just for the umbrella GM brand, but also for its individual brands. Said Wahl, “We should have those wrapped up in the next six to eight weeks, so we'll be able to then come back to market with all the answers and really show where we will be working on the spend.”