Dentsu bolsters Black-owned media services, urges clients to reveal diversity spending
Another holding company is pledging to help clients steer more dollars to Black-owned and other diverse media companies. Dentsu—whose media agencies include Carat, iProspect, Dentsu X and 360i—today unveiled a new initiative called Economic Empowerment that includes consulting services aimed at driving systematic change in how brands make media-buying decisions.
As part of the program, Dentsu says it will maintain a repository of all minority-owned partners and encourage clients to reveal publicly how much they are spending with them. “At the end of the day we work for our clients and so they need to agree to that level of transparency,” says Doug Rozen, CEO of Dentsu Media Americas. But “we are suggesting they should.”
General Motors, which uses Carat for media, is one of the first clients to use the offering, according to Dentsu. The automaker in April promised to increase advertising spending on Black-owned media to 4% by 2022 and 8% by 2025—up from 2% in 2021. The commitment came after a public pressure campaign led by several Black media owners.
Dentsu’s other media clients include Procter & Gamble, Microsoft, Mastercard, Pfizer and Kroger.
Black-owned media companies represent less than 2% of total spend in 2020, according to Nielsen Ad Intel, while Black consumers represent 13% of the population.
Dentsu’s program comes as other holding companies step up efforts to invest in Black-owned media. IPG Mediabrands last week committed to invest a minimum of 5% in Black-owned media across all of its clients in aggregate by 2023. WPP-owned GroupM on Monday pledged to get clients to spend at least 2% on diverse and Black-owned media.
Dentsu avoided making a percentage commitment, because “at the end of the day, we can make all the commitments we want, but it comes down to our clients making the change, and we want to help them make that change,” Rozen says.
Dentsu’s program covers Black-owned media, but extends to “all underserved voices,” Rozen says, including media owned by members of the Hispanic, LGBTQ and military communities.
New services include strategic consulting for minority-owned media companies aimed at helping them create products designed at luring more advertiser interest. Dentsu will also make permanent a program called Infronts, which it has piloted for six months and includes holding monthly meetings with minority-owned media companies to offer advice. “Instead of a one-and-done upfront event, it’s a recurring [meeting] that pairs media owners with … client teams,” Rozen says.
Dentsu’s new offering will be led by Mark Prince, a new hire who takes on the title of senior VP and head of Economic Empowerment. He joins the holding company after serving as managing partner and executive VP at Professional Partnering Solutions, which offers diversity solutions for advertising, marketing, media and technology. Prince previously worked for several media agencies.
“I have experienced first-hand the legitimate issues and challenges minority-owned media, especially Black-owned media, have and continue to face within the advertising landscape,” Prince said in a statement. “This new offering is an important step in providing economic inclusion for diverse-owned media companies.”