General Motors Plans May 14 Upfront for Minority-Owned Media

Brian Steinberg
·3-min read

General Motors, one of the nation’s largest advertisers, is trying to build new roads for minority-owned media outlets, part of a broader push on Madison Avenue to address a large gap between what is spent on large national media properties and media companies operated by owners from diverse backgrounds.

The nation’s largest automaker said it intends to hold an “upfront” with minority-owned media outlets that will give those companies a chance, essentially, to make a pitch for some of its ad dollars. The proposed summit “will encourage existing and potential partners to submit an overview of their business for consideration by GM for deeper engagements,” the automaker said Friday. “The process that will be used for the selection of media will be accredited by a third party to ensure fairness and transparency>”

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GM has come under scrutiny in recent weeks for how it allocates its ad dollars. A group of Black media leaders, including entrepreneur Byron Allen, used newspaper ads in the Detroit Free Press and Wall Street Journal to deliver an open letter to GM CEO Mary Barra, suggesting the manufacturer of Cadillac and Chevrolet spent less than 0.5% of its advertising in Black-owned media outlets. GM on Friday reiterated plans to double its “commitment for spending with Black-owned media to 2 percent in 2021 and 4 percent in 2022, with a goal of reaching 8 percent by 2025.”

Other advertisers and media agencies have made new efforts to recognize minority-owned media and multicultural media outlets. For decades, advertisers have only placed small amounts of money with such outlets, preferring to do more business with some of the nation’s large media conglomerates, which offer a broader portfolio of outlets and attract larger crowds. At the same time, owners of the minority-owned outlets wind up fighting a perception that they are too small, which crimps their ability to gain carriage with cable and satellite distributors.

General Motors said it would had established a new set of criteria “that will allow for more flexibility based on the size and scale of the media organization.” The automaker also set up a new “multi-factor analysis” that its media buying agencies will use for deciding how to work with minority-owned media outlets. And GM said it would allocate $50 million over ten years “to support and scale diverse marketing companies. This investment will support sustainable growth and is incremental to GM’s media spend.

“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,” said Alfred Liggins, CEO of Urban One, in a statement. “Today’s announcement will allow our platforms and other diverse media groups to create unique and customized ways for GM to reach their customer base.”

Procter & Gamble, WPP Group’s GroupM and Interpublic Group’s Mediabrands are among the Madison Avenue entities that have in recent weeks unveiled new efforts to engage with minority executives and the outlets they operate.

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