Byron Allen and Verizon to host Black-owned media summit
Byron Allen’s media group and Verizon are partnering to host a Black-owned media summit.
At the same time, Verizon is also pledging to increase spend in Black-owned media companies as part of its new responsible marketing action plan. The company said it would spend at least 2% of its ad budget with Black-owned media.
The event will take place in May, around the same time as media giants traditionally host their upfront events as they look to secure ad commitments for the fall.
“I’m very proud of Verizon, one of the largest advertisers in the world, coming to the table to make sure we have real economic inclusion for Black-owned media,” Allen, founder, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group, said in a statement. “The biggest trade deficit in our nation is the trade deficit between corporate America and Black America, and we must close that gap immediately.”
Allen has been leading a group of Black media executives calling for brands and agencies to shift more ad dollars to Black-owned media. Last week the group took out full-page newspaper ads calling out General Motors CEO Mary Barra for ignoring requests to meet with Black-owned media owners. The ads resulted in GM setting up multiple meetings with the group and pledging to allocate 4% of its U.S. advertising spend on Black-owned media companies next year, and 8% by 2025.
The goal of the summit is to provide Black-owned media companies with resources to help enable long-term growth, John Nitti, chief media officer, Verizon, said in a statement.
Verizon also announced its responsible marketing plan, created in conjunction with agencies IPG, Publicis and WPP.
The goals of the plan include: increasing diversity and equity in both representation and economic investment within the creative supply chain; building an inclusive environment for all talent to thrive and retain diverse talent; strengthening practices aimed at fighting racism, bias and stereotypes in all advertising, content and media; and maintaining content policies that prohibit Verizon creative from being placed or run in broadcast and digital environments where hateful, denigrating, discriminatory and other types of harmful content appear.
As part of this, Verizon is committed to spending over 30% with diverse-owned video production companies; increasing video production using diverse directors from 24% to 30%; spending over 30% with diverse-owned experiential production companies; and spending over 30% of the company’s print-production outlays with diverse-owned print production companies.
Verizon also provided an update on the makeup of its internal marketing teams and the teams of the agencies it works with: People of color made up 37.1% and new hires for people of color was up to 49%; women made up 50.9% of the combined teams and new women hires accounted for 54.1%.
To help support the retention and promotion of diverse mid-level talent, Verizon is creating AdDisruptos, a six-month program that provides mentorship and speaker access to diverse talent with five to eight years of experience.
And in an effort to help ensure Verizon’s creative remains free from racism, bias and stereotypes, the company created a Diversity Inclusion Equality Measure tool to track the representation of race, gender, ethnicity and identity. It has also created mandatory content bias training that Verizon’s marketing and agency teams must complete, and formed an advisory council at each agency.