He wants to see big changes and soon.
GM has had a fantastic start to 2021 and has plans to continue its impressive run of form into the future. Its new lithium-metal batteries could be a game-changer for increasing electric vehicle range. A new Cadillac EV could be coming soon too, adding to the Lyriq that we expect to see imminently. But all of this success is not being shared fairly. That's the word from musician Sean Combs, who says that GM can do better in terms of economic inclusion. Rather than just suggesting that things need to change, Combs has also hinted at a boycott from the Black community.
On Thursday, Combs wrote an open letter to GM in which he defended a decision by a group of men who chose to run an advertisement that highlighted GM spends less than 0.5 percent of its annual advertising revenue budget with Black-owned media companies. GM responded that the actual figure is 2 percent and had scheduled a meeting with those who ran the ad and others to come to a resolution. Then the group decided to re-run the advertisement, and this is part of what Combs is defending.
GM said that the ad was full of "factual inaccuracies and character assault" but Combs hit back by writing that "exposing GM's historical refusal to fairly invest in Black-owned media is not an assassination of character" but was a way of exposing how GM and others have always treated the community.
He continues: "No longer can Corporate America manipulate our community into believing that incremental progress is acceptable action."
Furthermore, Combs claims that "out of the roughly $3 billion General Motors spent on advertising, we estimate only $10 million was invested in Black-owned media." Speaking with the Detroit Free Press, GM spokesman Pat Morrissey says that these numbers are misrepresented and that the company spends "significantly less than $3 billion in advertising per year." Nevertheless, GM is holding meetings with stakeholders to resolve the issue and has promised to dramatically increase its spending with Black-owned media.
In addition, GM plans to launch Diverse Owned Media Upfront next month, which will be dedicated to encouraging more business proposals from more companies. Morrissey concludes: "As the company with the largest diversity media spend in our industry, we are committed to evaluating our approach on a regular basis."
But Combs warns that if things don't change soon, the community is "prepared to weaponize" its dollars, hinting at a boycott. Could GM start losing popularity in its home country? Time will tell.