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Sean Combs, in an open letter posted to the website of his Revolt TV channel, called out large corporations for failing to commit meaningful advertising dollars to Black-owned media companies.
“We demand that Corporate America reinvest an equitable percentage of what you take from our community back into our community,” Combs wrote. “The same way you understand the power of our dollars, we understand our power to take them away from any corporation that doesn’t give us the economic inclusion we deserve. We are prepared to weaponize our dollars.”
Combs was responding in part to a move by General Motors last week, when it announced that it would spend more of its ad allocations on Black media, ultimately rising to 8 percent of its total ad spend by 2025. The automaker said it currently spends about 2 percent of its ad budget on Black-owned media.
Combs, in his letter, said that the new initiative wasn’t enough: “If you love us, pay us! Not a token investment. Not a charity check or donation,” Combs wrote. “Radical change is the only option. You’re either with us or you are on the other side.”
“Our commitment goes beyond advertising and sponsorship revenue. We want to build long-standing partnerships with Black-owned and diverse media companies in a transparent and meaningful way,” said GM in a statement. “This includes investments in business enablers such as customized deal structures and facilitating access to measurement and mentorship tools, which are often a barrier for small and emerging businesses. In addition, in May of 2021 we will launch our Diverse Owned Media Upfront. The process, which is a dedicated briefing to diverse media owners that encourages partners and potential partners to submit business proposals, will be accredited by a third-party to ensure fairness and transparency. As the company with the largest diversity media spend in our industry, we are committed to evaluating our approach on a regular basis to ensure we maintain our leadership position.”
The letter from Combs follows public pressure from media mogul Byron Allen and other Black leaders, who took out a newspaper ad calling out the automaker for not spending enough in the Black community. Allen, whose holdings include The Weather Channel and a number of local TV stations across the country, has also pushed for other large companies to increase their ad spend.
On Wednesday, Allen and telecom giant Verizon announced a deal that will see it increase its ad spend on Black-owned media, though specific details were not available.
“I’m very proud of Verizon, one of the largest advertisers in the world, coming to the table to make sure we have real economic inclusion for Black-owned media,” said Allen in a statement. “The biggest trade deficit in our nation is the trade deficit between corporate America and Black America, and we must close that gap immediately.”
GM is an advertisers on Revolt TV, Combs said in his letter, though he added that “our relationship is not an example of success. Instead, Revolt, just like other Black-owned media companies, fights for crumbs while GM makes billions of dollars every year from the Black community.”
“No longer can Corporate America manipulate our community into believing that incremental progress is acceptable action,” Combs wrote in his letter.
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