General Motors (GM) has been a staple in American culture for more than 100 years and although they’ve made profits annually from Black consumers, the brand spends an abysmally low amount of money annually—allegedly about .5 percent—with Black-owned media. After the George Floyd protests, Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors, stated that the brands was going to do “more” for Black lives and donated $10 Million to racial justice organizations and pledged to launch a board to help increase inclusion of Black leaders. Barra says she wants to help... and she can. Follow me on how really quick.
Recently a group of Black media executives claimed that General Motors only spends about .5 percent—yes, half of one percent— of its yearly advertising budget with Black owned media companies. [General Motors executives responded to EBONY stating the company spends more, approximately 2% annually.] The lack of direct accountability is telling. So, let's say they spend double the noted amount and 1% of their advertising budget with Black owned media companies. Why is that acceptable?
Let’s do some math. At the .05 percent claim, that means out of the $2.95 billion GM spent on advertising in 2019 only $14.75 million went to Black-owned media companies. To compare, this is like GM having $100 to spend on advertising and only using .50 cents to spend with every single Black-owned media company in the USA—all of the companies. So, my question to Mary Barra is this simple: How much is Black-owned media—and the Black consumer— worth? Your current business practices say you believe our community is valued at .50 of every $100.
The Advertising Budget
As I stated above, GM spent $2.95 billion on advertising in 2019. That means they spent between $2.935 billion and $2.920 billion of their advertising budget on media companies that are not Black-owned. If GM decided to dedicate 5% of their advertising budget to Black owned companies that would add up to $147.5 Million flowing to Black owned media companies. Comparatively, that’s like $5 to their $100. That $147 Million would significantly change the landscape of Black-owned media companies. They can create Black jobs, hire Black creators, and more. This would change the lives of Black people, all while running advertisements to Black audiences.
The GM Balance Sheet
General Motors can say they don’t have enough money to do more business with the Black community. I’d believe it if it was another company. Not GM. First and foremost, GM brought in a total profit of $6.4 billion in 2020 and expects their pre-tax profits to increase significantly in 2021 (between $10 - $11 billion). As a company moving toward producing more electronic vehicles, it’s likely that they’ll expand their advertising budget to sell more cars. If they can afford to do that, then they definitely can afford to increase their advertising spends with Black-owned media companies.
Other Companies are stepping up to the plate
Last year, Netflix parked $100 million in cash in Black Owned banks. Even though that’s a small percentage of their available cash it more than doubles GM’s investment in Black business. Michael Jordan is pledging $100 Million to Black Lives Matter over the next 10 years. Bank of America pledged $1 Billion to aid racial equality and economic justice. So many other companies stepped up to the plate last year. For a company that brought in over $122 Billion in revenue during the pandemic of 2020, GM should and could make a more significant impact by expanding their advertising spend with Black owned media companies.