Music icon and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs blasted General Motors and big U.S. companies for scant dollars directed to Black-owned media, saying they “have exploited our culture, undermined our power, and excluded Black entrepreneurs from participating in the value created by Black consumers” by allocating a measly share of ad spending to Black-owned media.
His move comes several weeks after a group of Black media executives held the giant automaker’s feet to the fire on just that, resulting in the Detroit company pledging to allocate 4% of its U.S. advertising budget to Black-owned media companies by next year and double that outlay to 8% by 2025.
Combs, CEO and founder of Revolt Media, said on his company’s website, “When confronted by the leaders of several Black-owned media companies, General Motors listed my network, Revolt, as an example of the Black-owned media it supports. While Revolt does receive advertising revenue from GM, our relationship is not an example of success. Instead, Revolt, just like other Black-owned media companies, fights for crumbs while GM makes billions of dollars every year from the Black community.”
GM spokesman Patrick Morrissey said the company had confirmed last week that it’s agreed to have a series of meetings with Black-owned media shortly “to discuss our plans and commitments going forward. Those meetings are being scheduled right now.” He also said that General Motors’ 2021 annual report due out next month will include specific commitments to diversity media shared, and shared some excerpts (see below).
According to Combs, in 2019 big brands invested less than 1% of the $239 billion they spent on advertising in Black-owned media companies. He said of the roughly $3 billion General Motors spent, only an estimated $10 million went to Black-owned media – despite the fact that Blacks make up 14% of the U.S. population and spend $1.4 trillion annually.
Morrissey said GM spends “significantly less” than $3 billion a year on advertising although it doesn’t disclose the figure.
The earlier challenge to GM came from Byron Allen and other Black media executives to in a letter published in full page-ads in the Detroit Free Press, the Wall Street Journal and other publications accusing the company of ignoring Black-owned outlets.
GM’s Response regarding Support For Black-Owned Media Organizations
As part of our aspiration to become the most inclusive company in the world, General Motors is committed to partnering with minority-owned media organizations, including Black-owned media companies. In 2021, for example, we doubled our spend with Black-owned media groups to 2%. We will increase our spend with this important segment to 4% in 2022, and will continue to grow our spend thereafter with a target of 8% by 2025. 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.
With the Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing (AIMM), we pledged our commitment to equality, inclusion, and systemic change in advertising. Each year GM sponsors content that helps us to deliver on our pledge. Some examples include:
• We partnered with the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) on an urban black radio initiative to launch a new audio series called “More Than That” with Gia Peppers. “More Than That” is a journey across America with the voices of Black Excellence, celebrating conversations on wellness, entertainment, and wealth.
• We launched “Real Talk Real Change” in partnership with Ozy, a diverse, global, and forward-looking media company focused on “the New and the Next.”
• We have a longstanding partnership with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) to provide access to relevant news and thought leadership to 20 million readers weekly. The NNPA is a trade association of more than 200 African American-owned community newspapers from around the United States and is the largest and most influential Black-owned media resource in America.
• We partner with Free the Work, an organization that ensures our media and advertising partners hire directors and creators from underrepresented backgrounds.
Our commitment goes beyond advertising and sponsorship revenue. We want to build long-standing partnerships with Black-owned and diverse media companies in a transparent and meaningful way. This includes investments in business enablers such as customized deal structures and facilitating access to measurement and mentorship tools, which are often a barrier for small and emerging businesses. In addition, in May of 2021 we will launch our Diverse Owned Media Upfront. The process, which is a dedicated briefing to diverse media owners that encourages partners and potential partners to submit business proposals, will be accredited by a third-party to ensure fairness and transparency. As the company with the largest diversity media spend in our industry, we are committed to evaluating our approach on a regular basis to ensure we maintain our leadership position.