Black-owned media calls on Ford, Stellantis to increase advertising


After securing a commitment from General Motors to do more business, executives of some black-owned media organizations are now launching their campaign towards Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis.

Media mogul Byron Allen, who owns The Weather Channel, among dozens of other television properties, asked the other two members of the Detroit Three automakers to discuss increasing their ad spending with media companies owned. to blacks.

Separately, Ben Chavis, CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents 230 black-owned newspapers, said he wanted to meet with automakers, including Ford, to spend more with the media represented by the NNPA. Chavis is a longtime civil rights activist who in 1993 became the youngest person to serve as the executive director and CEO of the NAACP. Chavis was appointed national director of the Million Men’s March and helped organize the march in the nation’s capital in 2000.

Ford and Stellantis say they are ready to work with the various media business owners. A Ford spokesperson told the Free Press he “looks forward” to meeting the two men. No meeting has yet been scheduled.

While Chavis is flexible in his desires, Allen has his own demands.

“I want to know from other automakers, ‘Are you going to allocate at least 8% of your marketing budget – and match GM – to black-owned media? “” Allen told the Free Press. “That’s what I tell the rest of the auto industry.”

Another letter?

Allen and Chavis share a cause, but get down to the table using different tactics.

Some see Allen’s tactics as wanting to line his own pockets. But he says he wants to continue Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign for economic justice. This includes a redistribution of wealth in America to enable African Americans to achieve greater financial equality.

As neither Ford nor Stellantis responded directly to him, he said, “If we don’t speak soon, I’ll be happy to write them a letter and you will read it in the Detroit Free Press.”

Allen, 60, who was born in Detroit and lived there until the age of 7, was referring to a full-page ad he and six other black owners of media companies published in the Free Press on the 28th. March. Chavis was not one of the signatories on it.

In the ad, the group with Allen accused CEO and CEO Mary Barra of systemic racism for years for refusing to meet with them and not spending enough, in their opinion, of GM’s advertising budget with owned media. black versus black consumers. GM’s marketing executives had offered to meet with the group in the past, but the group wanted to meet with Barra.

Since the announcement, GM has pledged to increase its spending on black-owned media from 2% to 4% in 2022 to 8% by 2025. GM held its first summit for 200 diverse company owners on Friday. media, promising these owners longer futures and faster payments.

Chavis said the summit was “very constructive” and, while supporting Allen’s message of economic inclusion for black-owned media, Chavis said the NNPA is, “maintaining discussions with all the builders. automotive industry to continue to maintain fair relationships with business, especially in advertising, but we are doing this independently of Byron. ”

GM spent about $ 1.2 million a year on advertising in the 230 newspapers that the NNPA represents, Chavis said in a previous interview. He declined to discuss how much Ford or Stellantis is spending with the NNPA.

“We are having discussions with all of the major automakers on how to improve fairness between the auto giants, such as Ford, and the NNPA,” Chavis said. “We are making progress.”

‘Deposit the money’

Allen’s company, Allen Media Group, owns 23 TV channels, 67 TV shows and 12 networks. It is valued at around $ 3 billion.

On May 6, Allen and Barra had a 30-minute Zoom meeting, which he said was “enjoyable and extremely professional.”

He told Barra he expected her to honor GM’s vow to increase its current ad spending with black-owned media. By Allen’s calculations, 8% is expected to be $ 160-240 million, he said.

GM spokesman Pat Morrissey declined to comment on Allen’s meeting with Barra, beyond saying, “GM remains committed to continuing the dialogue with media from diverse groups.

GM does not disclose its advertising budget. Partly for this reason, the practicality of Allen’s application is difficult to assess, said Marcus Collins, a business professor and marketing expert at the University of Michigan.

“It’s hard to say if that seems right because we don’t know the baseline,” Collins said. “You can only assess something against something else. At a glance, it’s a nice commitment if GM is ready to make that commitment. “

At the end of May, the big television channels will have made their presentations to advertisers, then advertisers “will deposit their money. So we’ll know in the next 30 days, in mid-June, “how much money GM will spend on black-owned media,” Allen said.

Do business or be responsible

About two weeks ago, right after meeting Barra, Allen said his team reached out to Ford and Stellantis to ask automakers to honor GM’s pledge.

Stellantis was born this year from the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the manufacturer Peugeot PSA Group.

Allen said he did not have to initiate an “application” with most foreign automakers. They contacted him in recent weeks, he said.

“Honda came to us two weeks ago and said, ‘We’re here, we want to lean,’” Allen said. He declined to disclose Honda’s financial commitment as it is still under discussion.

Honda spokesman Chris Abbruzzese confirmed that Honda had had a “positive meeting” with Allen.

“I applaud Honda,” Allen said. “As a Detroiter, I am disappointed that the American manufacturers did not lead the charge. But every automaker is going to do business with significant black-owned media, or they’ll be held accountable. “

The will to improve

Ford has “a long and successful history of working together and supporting minority-owned businesses,” TR Reid, a spokesperson, said in a statement.

“We continue to make significant progress to better reflect, represent and reach the diverse clients we serve,” said Reid. “Doing this means being transparent and honest about where you need to improve. We are happy to sit down with Mr. Allen and discuss his business and potential growth opportunities together. “

Ford launched a campaign for the new Bronco Sport SUV on Sunday that will last until August. It targets African American women, aired on BET Her TV, OWN and TV One and Cleo TV, both owned by Urban One. It will also air on NBA TV.

The black-owned media world does not view these businesses as black-owned, Allen said. But the creator of the ad, UniWorld Group (UWG), is black owned.

Additionally, Ford’s campaign was created in partnership with three national black-led organizations that focus on black outdoor health.

Often times, Allen said, companies confuse the idea of ​​targeting ads to black consumers and running them on black-targeted networks the same way they spend with black-owned media. He has already criticized GM on this issue.

“Do you spend money with black owned media companies or not?” Allen said.

For competitive reasons, Reid said, Ford does not disclose how much it spends with black-owned media.

Stellantis spokeswoman Shawn Morgan also declined to disclose the company’s current spending.

Companies generally do not disclose these details.

But Stellantis has “a long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion with one of the most progressive programs to promote economic growth and minority supplier development,” Morgan wrote in a statement.

Ford Motor Company celebrates the outward spirit of black women in a new advertising campaign for the 2021 Bronco Sport.

Commitments with GM already won


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