- GroupM on June 8 announced a list of 20 clients that have pledged to spend at least 2% of their total annual media budgets on Black-owned media companies as part of the WPP group's Media Inclusion Initiative (MII), per a press release.
- The clients include major marketers General Mills, Mars, Danone, Nestlé, Pernod Ricard, L'Oréal USA, Target, Adidas, Uber and DoorDash. AARP, Citizens, Ferrara, MGA Entertainment, Mizkan America, No7 Beauty Co., Pharmavite, Ring, Tyson Foods and WW International round out the list.
- GroupM launched MII in May as part of its larger Responsible Investment efforts and comes as agencies and brand partners increase their financial support of Black-owned media companies and creators.
GroupM securing 20 clients — including major CPG, retail and tech brands — in less than a month since announcing MII demonstrates the urgency agencies and brands feel in delivering on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) promises. Such commitments became table stakes over the past year amid increased calls for racial justice in the wake of the protests that followed the police killing of George Floyd.
"Directing investment toward Black-owned media is essential to the future of our industry and a priority for GroupM in our mission to create a more equitable ecosystem and make advertising work better for people," Matt Sweeney, chief investment officer at GroupM U.S., said in the press release.
Beyond the inauguaral class of companies, GroupM says the 2% commitments are in tandem with "private allocations" and that additional client discussions on the topic are ongoing. Along with the pledge, GroupM's MII includes the Diverse Voices Accelerator, which will support a wide range of creators working on content for GroupM clients. BBDO has also worked to boost diverse creators, as have brands including P&G, PepsiCo's Lifewtr and Häagen-Dazs.
Target is among the GroupM clients that is going beyond the 2% pledge. The retailer committed to spending 5% of its budget each year with Black-owned media companies beginning in 2022, while also increasing engagement with Black content creators, Target's Senior Vice President for Marketing Maurice Cooper said in the press release.
With the announcement, GroupM moves beyond introduction of a plan to ramp up DEI efforts to implementation of one. Last month, competitor IPG Mediabrands pledged to allocate at least 5% of total media spending among its advertiser clientele to Black-owned media by 2023, while GroupM's fellow WPP agency VMLY&R launched an inclusion-focused consultancy to support brands' DEI efforts. Meanwhile, Endeavor's multicultural marketing firm 160over90 announced a partnership with Obsidianworks, an inclusivity-focused agency founded by actor Michael B. Jordan and Chad Easterling.
Similarly, the inaugural brands signing up for GroupM's MII pledge are not alone in launching efforts around diversity. McDonald's plans to more than double investments in diverse media partners as part of a new plan to improve representation, while Diageo launched a standalone business that seeks to boost DEI in the beverage space. Brands are on the frontline of responding to consumer demands around diversity, as 71% of consumers expect brands to promote diversity and inclusion in their online advertising.