In the wake of a cultural reckoning since the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Black Americans have been fighting — in life and in business — at every level for justice, equity and inclusion. “We’re done letting corporations manipulate our culture into believing incremental progress is acceptable action,” says Diddy in a post on Twitter.
In 2019, Black buying power in America was $1.4 trillion, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth, but less than 2% of all ad revenue spent in the U.S., some $200 billion, targeted Black consumers according to Nielsen. Diddy recently joined entrepreneur, investor and ESSENCE Ventures Chairman, Richelieu Dennis in calling out the lack of Black culture, and more importantly, dollars in the advertising industry.
“We demand that Corporate America reinvest an equitable percentage of what you take from our community back into our community. If the Black community represents 15% of your revenue, Black-owned media should receive at least 15% of the advertising spend,” he said in an open letter posted on his Revolt TV platform.
Dennis recently shared similar sentiments on why Black owned media companies deserve true equity, “Our communities deserve and demand more than fair weather friends content to extract from our communities with no meaningful investment in them.”
In the op-ed he penned for ESSENCE last month he continues, “We need a new paradigm that does more than acknowledge that media partnership and investment strategies have not been inclusive and that Black-owned media have not received commensurate shares of ad dollars. We need real action that results in real industry shifts. At the end of the day, we have to hold every company accountable.”
Brands and agencies consistently fail not just minority audiences, but minority suppliers too, with little pressure to change — until now. Calling out one brand in particular, Diddy explains Revolt TV’s relationship with General Motors. “Corporations like General Motors have exploited our culture, undermined our power, and excluded Black entrepreneurs from participating in the value created by Black consumers,” he says. “In 2019, brands spent $239 billion on advertising. Less than 1% of that was invested in Black-owned media companies. Out of the roughly $3 billion General Motors spent on advertising, we estimate only $10 million was invested in Black-owned media. Only $10 million out of $3 billion! Like the rest of Corporate America, General Motors is telling us to sit down, shut up and be happy with what we get.”
Entertainment Studios’ Byron Allen has also been vocal in calling for brands to increase media spending with Black-owned companies based in the United States. He recently partnered with Verizon for a new diversity, equity and inclusion initiative to work towards this change.
“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, who is the Founder, Chairman & CEO of Allen Media Group. “The biggest trade deficit in our nation is the trade deficit between corporate America and Black America, and we must close that gap immediately.”
The fact of the matter is, Black Americans have been disproportionately underserved in all sectors of business. The time for change is now.