General Motors CEO Mary Barra has agreed to meet with Byron Allen and the leaders of several Black-owned media companies after they took out a full-page ad in The Detroit Free Press requesting a one-hour Zoom meeting with her.
According to the Free Press, GM’s Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl met with Byron Allen, the head of Allen Media Group, on Monday to discuss the contents of the letter as well as the group’s demands. The meeting was “constructive,” the publication reports, prompting Barra to agree to meet with Allen and other owners and leaders of Black-owned American media groups this Thursday.
The letter was signed by Allen, along with the leaders of several other Black-owned media groups, including rapper Ice Cube, who runs film production company Cubevision, and Nu Vision Media CEO Roland Martin, among others. In the letter, the media groups expressed frustration over the fact that GM only spends 0.5 percent of its marketing budget to advertise within Black-owned media companies and called on the company to dedicate at least five percent of its annual marketing spend to Black-owned media organizations. The letter also said Barra had refused to meet with the media industry leaders and called on her resignation if she did not agree to a face-to-face.
GM spokesman Pat Morrissey told the Free Press this week that GM never explicitly said Barra would not meet with Allen and first wanted him to meet with the company’s CMO.
“We never said we would not have a meeting with Mr. Allen,” Morrissey told the Free Press. “We indicated we wanted to have a preliminary meeting between our chief marketing officer and his team to lay out our broader strategy on diversity and Black-owned media, including all marketing, advertising and sponsorship activities prior to a meeting with Mary.”
Morrissey also said that GM’s ad spend with Black-owned media groups is closer to two percent and that the company is “committed to growing it,” in the near future.
Thursday’s meeting between Mary Barra, Byron Allen and other Black-owned media leaders will take place on Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic.