Media mogul Byron Allen wasn’t kidding when he said he would take action against companies who refuse to advertise in the Black press. He threatened to sue companies over a lack of Black media ad placements, but for now, Allen has found another way to express his frustration.
The owner of one of the largest cable network portfolios in the industry, including the Weather Channel, Allen took out a full-page ad in the Detroit Free Press on March 28 calling General Motors CEO Mary Barra racist.
According to Allen as well as hip-hop artist-activist Ice Cube and several owners of Black-owned media companies, Barra has refused to meet with them “consistently, over time and after multiple requests.”
The group said it has been trying to meet with Barra for five years to discuss how they could receive more of the company’s advertising dollars, but Barra has never responded, Black Enterprise reported.
Frustrated, Allen went public with the ad.
The ad says, “General Motors spends billions of dollars in advertising and less than 0.5% goes to Black-Owned Media. This is horrendous, considering that we as African Americans make up approximately 14% of the population in America and we spend billions buying your vehicle.”
Then Allen goes into more detail over Barra’s failure to respond to meeting requests. “Mary, you have asked us to meet with your Chief Marketing Officer, Deborah Wahl. We have absolutely no interest in that because when Deborah was Chief Marketing Officer of McDonald’s, in our opinion, Black-Owned Media was, once again, severely neglected, minimized, and discriminated against. To be clear, Black-Owned Media and not minority-owned, because minority includes white women and large corporations like General Motors can hide behind and tout their minority records while continuing not to do business with Black-Owned Media companies.”
The letter is signed by Allen, Cube, journalist Roland Martin, Todd Brown, founder of Urban Edge Networks, Don Jackson, founder of Central City Productions, Earl ‘Butch’ Graves, president and CEO of Black Enterprise, and Junior Bridgeman, owner of Ebony Media.
The ad ran in Detroit, Allen’s home and GM’s headquarters.
The ad also called out GM for publicly supporting Black Lives Matter while not increasing ad dollars in Black media. According to the ad, the company’s public statements and private actions do not align, theGrio reported.
“You stand on stage, after the death of George Floyd, saying, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ when you have refused to acknowledge us,” the ad reads. “The very definition of systemic racism is when you are ignored, excluded and you don’t have true economic inclusion.”
GM responded in a press statement.
“General Motors aspires to be the most inclusive company in the world, and that includes how we allocate media spend. We have increased our planned spending with both diverse-owned and diverse-dedicated media across our family of brands,” GM said, the Detroit Bureau reported.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.
Earlier this year, Allen settled a $10 billion lawsuit filed by his media production company, Entertainment Studios, against cable operator Charter Communications for racial discrimination over Charter’s refusal to carry some of Allen’s cable channels.