After being called out by seven Black media owners in a full-page ad in the Detroit Free Press, General Motors has announced a new $50 million fund that will be allocated over a 10-year period to support diverse-owned and targeted media.
The automaker will also host a dedicated upfront meeting – which allows companies to pitch themselves to advertisers – with diverse media owners on May 14. GM will also revamp its criteria around measurement and scale so it will have more flexibility to engage with various-sized organizations.
“This action plan will transform our engagement model with diverse media in a sustainable way,” Deborah Wahl, GM global chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “Over the course of several weeks, we met with many diverse-owned media organizations. We are grateful for the transparency and spirit of collaboration, which helped us frame this inclusive approach.”
News of the upcoming changes at General Motors came after the aforementioned full-page was run by respected Black media owners who accused GM CEO Mary Barra of refusing to meet with them despite multiple requests.
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According to Automotive News, the group included: Byron Allen, founder and CEO of Allen Media Group; Earl “Butch” Graves, Jr., president and CEO of Black Enterprise; MC, actor and entrepreneur Ice Cube, who owns the pro-basketball league Big3, production company Cubevision and Contract with Black America; Roland Martin, CEO of Nu Vision Media; Junior Bridgeman, owner of Ebony Media; Don Jackson, founder, chairman and CEO, Central City Productions; and Todd F. Brown, founder, Urban Edge Networks.
“Mary, we and others firmly believe that if you continue to hold the position that Black Owned Media doesn’t deserve meaningful economic inclusion and we are not worth meeting with, then you should resign, effective immediately,” the ad said.
The group also requested a one-hour Zoom meeting with Barra. While they acknowledged Barra initially told them to meet with Wahl, they said due to her history of not supporting Black media while she was the chief marketing officer at McDonalds, they were not confident that a meeting with Wahl would bring any real change.
GM seems determined to prove them wrong as they made the announcement after meeting with various groups and stating they looked forward to continued discussions.
At least one Black media owner gave GM credit for their efforts. “I applaud GM for taking the results of their thoughtful and robust discussions with a significant number of diverse media entities and then developing this thorough, bold and transformational plan to increase engagement with diverse media,” Alfred Liggins, CEO of Urban One, said in a statement.