IPG Mediabrands’ clients spending with Black-owned media properties nearly tripled since the company held its first equity upfront last year, it announced today.
The agency plans to host its second equity upfront in April to bring attention to Black-owned and other BIPOC media companies. Last year, the agency announced its commitment to invest at least 5% in Black-owned media across its clients by 2023.
The agency said that “we are on track to deliver our three-year goal and continue to create opportunities for our clients.” It has seen growth in all of its client categories.
While last year’s event exclusively focused on Black-owned media companies, 2022’s equity upfront will include Latinx, AAPI and LGBTQIA+ companies, IPG Mediabrands announced. Widening the net was partly a response to client needs, said Dani Benowitz, president at Magna U.S., but was also viewed as “the next natural extension” of increasing media spend diversity.
The first equity upfront came at a time when Black-owned media companies called upon brands to spend a minimum of 2% of their ad budgets on Black-owned media; at the time, less than 2% of total ad spend was going towards Black-owned media companies even though Black consumers make up 13% of the population, according to Nielsen Ad Intel.
WPP’s GroupM made a similar pledge a few days after IPG’s 2021 pledge for its clients to spend 2% on diverse and Black-owned media, with a shorter activation timeframe of 12 to 18 months. GroupM also created a fund to put dollars specifically towards Black and other BIPOC creators.
More broadly, IPG and other agencies ramped up diversity initiatives in 2020 during the uprisings and increased scrutiny of racial inequity following the May 2020 police killing of George Floyd. Those efforts included appointing DE&I leaders, altering hiring practices and creating employee resource groups and business resource groups, although concerns have been raised around members not getting compensated for their work in these groups. Other agencies increased mentorship opportunities for employees of color and created programs to make the talent pipeline more diverse.
Benowitz confirmed that the equity upfront will be a yearly event. The agency has also created an internal “equity portal” that provides a directory to the media companies it is working with.