WPP's GroupM launched its Media Inclusion Initiative in May 2021 among a wave of similar programs and commitments from agencies and brands in response to the murder of George Floyd and subsequent racial equity movements. The initiative joined other efforts already in place at GroupM, such as the GroupM Multicultural Marketplace, which curates a collection of 300 diverse-owned publishers for clients, and the agency’s broader ethical buying framework.
GroupM’s expanded commitment includes a broader range of diverse ownership and expands to media focused on diverse audiences but not necessarily diverse-owned. That opens a broader array of inventory, but also aims to build on the momentum of the original program, del Fa said.
“We have the machine operating, so it’s not new to anybody,” he said. “Once you have the machine operating, it’s easier to expand. The heaviest part of talking about this internally was for people to understand why we’re doing this and why all of a sudden diverse-owned media was important.”
GroupM has received the backing of several top Black-owned media companies.
“For those of us who’ve been in this a long time, there has never been a financial commitment from a general market agency to say we’re going to set a target and reach it,” said Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. CEO of Black Enterprise. “My father used to say to me all the time, ‘If I end up with a general market agency, I get lost on my way to the client,’ because he knew that agencies never are fighting for diverse social media or Black-owned media specifically. So for me, for the first time, we have a partner in the general market agency world willing to walk the walk and address their clients and ask them to commit to this.”
One noticeable difference is that “general market agencies have not exactly been the bastion of diversity in terms of the employee base, in terms of people making the decisions,” Graves said. But he said GroupM, with Kirk McDonald as CEO of North America, is “an exception to the rule.”
Another key difference between GroupM and other big agencies is that multicultural units elsewhere “have recommendation sort of abilities, where we think GroupM actually empowered Gonzalo and his team to make decisions and commitments as to how investments should be made,” said Alfred C. Liggins, CEO of Urban One. “That’s a big difference.”
“Right now in 2023 I think every brand, every media agency has every excuse in the world to not make progress, every excuse in the world to go backwards,” said Detavio Samuels, CEO of Revolt. “And it is in this moment in time where GroupM and Gonzalo and team are saying, ‘No, we’re going to double down on this problem.”