GM hosts 'Diverse-owned Media Summit,' commits to longer-term contracts

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Detroit — General Motors Co. on Friday hosted its first "Diverse-owned Media Summit" — an event it created after some Black-owned media executives pressured the automaker to be more inclusive with its advertising spends.

GM said 200 companies participated in the summit, which kicked off GM's request for proposals for media groups looking to work with the automaker. At the event, GM "made a commitment to longer-term contracts,"  GM Global Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl said in a statement.

Wahl added that the company "reiterated our commitment to equality, inclusion and systemic change in advertising and reinforced our leadership in the industry in addressing multiple aspects of the media ecosystem, including overall spend, spend distribution, measurement, deal structure and infrastructure development."

The summit is part of an action plan that GM revealed in April after Black-owned media executives called out the automaker in prominent print ads for not spending enough money with the companies and claimed GM CEO Mary Barra had previously refused to meet with those executives.

GM, in that action plan, said it would increase its spending with diverse media and 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.

Byron Allen, owner of the Weather Channel and other outlets, and six other executives from Black-owned media companies signed the full-page ad that appeared in a Sunday Detroit Free Press and later ran in the Wall Street Journal. 

Allen, who attended the summit, told The Detroit News on Friday that he met with Barra and asked for a commitment of $200 million a year from the automaker's advertising budget over 10 years with a minimum of 5% annual bumps for Black-owned media.

"The only the way you can truly show sincerity and commitment to Black-owned media is ... by providing true economic inclusion for Black-owned media," he said. "The world is going to know, very shortly, if GM is sincere in providing true economic inclusion for Black-owned media."

Twitter: @bykaleahall