DETROIT - The CEOs of several Black-owned media companies took out a full-page ad in a Detroit newspaper this weekend to admonish the Chairwoman of General Motors.
DETROIT, MI - JULY 16: General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra speaks at the opening the 2019 GM-UAW contract talks on July 16, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. With its increasing investment in electric vehicles, GM is faced with the challenge of trans
The paid advertisement accuses CEO Mary Barra of refusing requests to meet with the bosses, accusing her of ignoring attempts to mitigating systemic racism by excluding their companies when spending money on advertising.
The ad, which was signed by Byron Allen of Allen Media Group, LLC, Junior Bridgeman of Ebony Media, and Ice Cub, argues GM spends billions on advertising, of which "less than .05% goes to Black Owned Media."
"This is horrendous, considering that we as African Americans make up approximately 14% of the population in America and we spend billions buying your vehicles."
The ad, which first appeared in the Sunday edition of the Detroit Free Press, requests a one-hour Zoom meeting with Barra and other board members.
GM released a statement to FOX 2 defending the company's efforts and said that the data in the ad was inaccurate.
"General Motors aspires to be the most inclusive company in the world, and that includes how we allocate media spend. We have increased our planned spending with both diverse-owned and diverse-dedicated media across our family of brands. Additionally, we continue to develop and advance initiatives like the Chevrolet "Real Talk, Real Change" platform and support projects like "More than That with Gia Peppers," where we’ve partnered with the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters on a content series for Black American listeners produced and distributed by underrepresented businesses. In this same spirit, we will continue to have an open dialogue with Mr. Allen.
I would add that the data in the ad is not accurate. Contrary to the claim in the ad, GM spends more than .5% of our ad budget with black-owned media. Also, contrary to the message in the ad, 80% of our diverse-owned media spend is black-owned media outlets. Lastly - GM marketing and advertising executives have met often with Mr. Allen and his team and are committed to continuing to have an open dialogue."
- David Caldwell, Manager, Corporate Relations
Barra was among the nine company CEOs that issued a joint statement denouncing racism last year after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer.
The bosses from the city's big three auto companies, as well as health care corporations and area banks and property development firms, were all in attendance last June alongside the Detroit mayor and NAACP reps.
Earlier in March, GM announced it was joining the Gender and Diversity KPI Alliance. It will be tracking pay equality between employees and representation on its board. The company was also listed on the 2021 World's Most Ethical Companies list.
However, according to the full-page ad, Barra and GM have declined to invest more advertising dollars in Black-owned media companies. And if she didn't adjust policy, she should step down.
"Mary, we and others firmly believe that if you continue to hold this position that Black Owned Media doesn't deserve meaningful economic inclusion and we are not worth meeting with, then you should resign, effectively immediately."