GM reveals action plan to change diverse media relationships amid pressure

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Detroit — General Motors Co. says it is changing its "approach to diverse media relationships" after Black-owned media executives called out the automaker in prominent print ads last month.

On Friday, GM said it has adopted an action plan with five components, including an increase in its spending with diverse media. The automaker said it plans to double its commitment for spending with Black-owned media from 2% in 2021 and 4% by 2022, with a goal of reaching 8% by 2025.

New GM logo

The automaker also said it is planning a Diverse-owned Media Summit on May 14. And it has started a Diverse Marketing Incubator Fund, with the automaker giving $50 million over a 10-year period "to support and scale diverse marketing companies."

GM is implementing an Inclusive Measurement Rubric to "allow for more flexibility based on the size and scale of the media organization." Lastly, GM, along with its media buying agencies, will use a "multi-factor analysis" to select diverse media that assesses "capabilities, reach and analytics to drive more opportunity for diverse media."

“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.”

Byron Allen, owner of The Weather Channel and other outlets, and six other executives from Black-owned media companies signed a full-page ad that appeared in a Sunday Detroit Free Press criticizing GM CEO Mary Barra, claiming she refused to sit down with them. The ad later ran in The Wall Street Journal. 

In 2020, GM spent $2.7 billion on advertising and promotions, according to an SEC filing. GM doesn't disclose the advertising budget that makes up a portion of that. 

In a late March interview with The Detroit News, Allen said the seven signatories on the ad received $5 million in advertising dollars from GM. On Friday, he told The News that a company should be spending 10% to 15% of a $3 billion annual advertising budget on Black-owned media. 

"We are having a conversation of $300 (million) to $450 million a year should be going to Black-owned media," he said. "We make up almost 14% of the population and we make up approximately 12% of their sales. Do business with Black America the way Black America does business with you."

Twitter: @bykaleahall