Media mogul Byron Allen recently took out a full-page ad in the Sunday Detroit Free Press that blasted General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra with charges of systematic racism.
The ad claimed that GM, the largest U.S. auto maker by revenue, failed to spend its ad dollars fairly in Black media outlets. Allen and several other Black media owners said they had been attempting to meet with the GM CEO for more than five years with no response. Well, Barra has finally responded.
The ad said, “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.”
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GM said it will increase its ad spending in Black-owned media by 400 percent between now and 2023, according to the nation’s largest auto maker by revenue. And it said it plans to hold a series of small meetings with more media executives “ASAP.”
Following the publication of the advertisement, GM agreed to meet with the seven media moguls who backed Allen’s move.
GM currently devotes just 0.5 percent of its roughly $2.3 billion annual ad spend to Black publications and other media, according to the seven executives who signed the ad, The Detroit Bureau reported.
The automaker claims the figure is closer to 2 percent, although spokesman Pat Morrissey said GM management agreed an increase is necessary.
The signatories of the ad included Allen, who owns one of the largest cable network portfolios in the industry including the Weather Channel; hip hop artist-entrepreneur Ice Cube; and Junior Bridgeman, the owner of Ebony Media. They were set to demand that GM devote a minimum of $200 million annually to Black-owned media, with the figure increasing 5 percent annually during the next 10 years.
Instead, under a plan announced on April 1, GM said it will grow ad spending in Black-owned media from 2 percent to 8 percent of its total ad budget by the end of 2023. That would boost the figures from about $45 million to roughly $180 million over that period.
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“Black-owned media are a vital component of our marketing mix, and we evaluate our spend for media partners through several core metrics, including transparency, innovation, ad quality, audience delivery and brand safety,” General Motors said in a statement, Variety reported.
GM will begin rolling out an “upfront” process in May “that encourages partners and potential partners to submit business proposals” and “will be accredited by a third-party to ensure fairness and transparency,” TheGrio reported.