“We are thrilled and continue to be impressed with the levels of interest and engagement that BNC and BNC GO are generating with agencies and brands, many of which are deliberately reaching out to black consumers for the first time,” said David Fitzpatrick, Senior Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer of Black News Channel. “Every brand needs to demonstrate growth, and it feels like after decades of neglecting the audience we serve daily, companies now see us as a priority demographic,” he said.
The 24/7 news network, which launched in early 2020, previously reported strong interest during its initial presentations in 2021, with Fitzpatrick indicate the age of the ad at the time, this request “exceeded what would be our expectations for a network of start-ups”.
“This is the first year that we’ve really had strong agency buy-in, strong agency buy-in and engagement,” said Lynnwood Bibbens, founder and CEO of out-of-home media company ReachTV, in December during a Age of remote announcements broadcast. And 2021 marked the first official presentation of ReachTV, he added.
“And I’ll tell you, it’s such a big difference because now I have predictable income,” Bibbens said. “Now I can do original shows, and now I can do certain things because I know what my income will be. And that’s the advantage when you bring in black-owned media and give them the opportunity predict their income, so they can grow their business, which is why it’s so important.
The black-owned company, which operates nearly 2,500 TV screens at airports across North America and the UK, had a successful year by almost every measure. In June, Bibbens’ company reached a major agreement with IPG’s Magna to provide clients with sponsorships and onboarding opportunities. He also struck a deal with NBCUniversal that puts ReachTV in the media giant’s pitch to advertisers.
But while black-owned media executives appear to have seen a collective uptick in advertiser interest in 2021, there’s still a lot of work to be done, and at least one prominent advocate thinks many of those promises aren’t fulfilled. not up to par.
“They are all behind and they are all guilty. None of their numbers are defensible,” said media mogul Byron Allen, who has been one of the ad industry’s most vocal critics, of brand and agency commitments.
In March, Allen, CEO of Allen Media Group and owner of The Weather Channel alongside other cable networks and media assets, issued letters of intent to various American brands and their advertising agencies calling on them to invest at least 2% of their marketing budgets in black-owned media, or face legal action.
It’s a promise Allen has kept at least once, launching a $10 billion lawsuit against McDonald’s in May on the grounds that it systematically discriminates against black-owned media companies. He also publicly called on the fast food chain to fire CEO Chris Kempczinski following the publication of insensitive text messages between him and the mayor of Chicago. But a California judge dismissed the lawsuit in late 2021.
In May, McDonald’s pledged to more than double its U.S. investments in media companies, production stores, and content creators owned by diverse interests by 2024. Over the next four years, it plans to increase its ad spend in the United States with platforms owned by Blacks, Hispanics, Asians. Americans, women and LGBTQ 4% to 10%.
Allen said most of the promises made by media companies over the past year are small steps and not enough. “Black people are 13% to 14% of the population, we should have at least 15% of your budget for all the years we’ve been kicked out, for all the years from zero,” Allen said. “And pay me more than white people for all the years you didn’t pay me.”
As far as Allen is concerned – and what the wording of many advertisers’ investment pledges seems to align with – companies should invest primarily in black-owned media, rather than black-directed media, which in many many cases have a broader reach but are often not driven at the top by members of the communities they serve.
“We’ve had conversations about this … Our view is that it comes down to those who serve the public in many ways,” said Louis Carr, president of media sales at BET Networks, which is owned by ViacomCBS and ranks among the largest media companies targeted by black people, but not owned, in the United States
“Look at it like that,” said Carr, who pointed to a brand whose day-to-day operations are run by a predominantly black workforce and which publishes content aimed at African Americans (BET was previously a company owned by of black people before it was acquired by ViacomCBS, then Viacom, 20 years ago).
And despite the lack of a “black-owned distinction” in the business, Carr adds that advertisers have continued to lean into and recognize the value of black-targeted media, “not just from the perspective of optically, but from the point of view of income”. ”
The network sold out its ad inventory at its annual BET Awards in record time, adding 10 new advertisers to the mix.
While owned and directed media companies for Black Americans with a national presence largely report that advertisers have maintained a healthy pace with their past investment pledges, the same cannot always be said for local outlets and black-owned regions in the United States. , which many say has seen little to no renewed interest from brands over the past 18 months.
“Unfortunately… there is nothing new with brands. With the agencies, we had a few inquiries, but nothing of what actually happened,” said Tracey Williams-Dillard, publisher and CEO of the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, the oldest black-owned newspaper in the country. ‘State.
Founded in 1934 by Williams-Dillard’s grandfather, the legendary weekly is headquartered in Minneapolis, which became an epicenter of the Black Lives Matter movement after the police killings of George Floyd and Philando Castile in 2020 and 2016. respectively.
It’s also a major business center, with the largest area in the Twin Cities hosting the headquarters of Best Buy, Target, General Mills, 3M and many more. And these companies have not been silent on their diversity, equity and inclusion goals; in June, Best Buy pledged to channel nearly 10% of its advertising dollars to BIPOC media by 2025, while the latter two – both GroupM clients – have publicly signed the agency’s minimum 2% media investment pledge that same month.
“We decided that one of the other avenues we could take to further the discussion was to reach out to some of the businesses, some of the local businesses,” Williams-Dillard said. “So far, again, nothing. Crickets.
The somewhat stagnant growth of Spokesman-Recorder advertisers is not for lack of trying, with the newspaper’s ad sales team confirming that they have attempted to contact and strike deals with several brands or their agencies advertising, and although preliminary conversations have taken place between the newspaper and at least two US agencies, they have yet to secure many firm advertising commitments.