Many brands have pledged to support diversity and inclusion following protests against racism in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last year. Amid those
efforts, a newly formed media collective named Group Black has taken an important step in urging marketers and agencies to shift more of their ad spending to Black-owned media outlets.
The organization lined up WPP’s GroupM with a goal of allocating $75 million to Black-owned media and creators, as part of Group Black’s broader effort to deploy more than $500
million by the end of next year.
To achieve that goal, Group Black aims to help solve the “pipeline problem,” or developing more ways for brands to advertise among existing and
emerging Black-owned media companies.
Group Black was co-founded by Travis Montaque, a technology entrepreneur who also founded messaging company Holler, and Richelieu Dennis,
the founder of hair-care company SheaMoisture, which bought Essence magazine from Time Inc. in 2018. Holler and Essence are among the founding members of Group Black, along with Afropunk,
Baller Alert, The Shade Room and esports platform Play VS.
“Our effort is to dramatically enable incredible amounts of inventory opportunities for marketers to reach
consumers and achieve their business goals,” Montaque said in an interview. “We’re aggressively extending our member base. I’m excited by the number of potential members that
have reached out.”
The initiative includes building a media ecosystem of brands, creators and media companies, in addition to Group Black Ventures, an incubator for
Black-owned media startups.
“We want our member companies to be bigger assets,” Montaque said. “We can advise on technologies and strategies and all those
types of things ... effectively making them more competitive in the media landscape in general.”
Group Black also aims to dispel the perception that Black-owned media
companies only target Black audiences, Montaque said. He cites his company Holler, which has 70 million monthly users, as an example of a general market brand.
“There’s this perception that Black-owned means Black-targeted,” Montaque said. “Working with Black-owned media businesses doesn’t mean that you’re just going
to reach Black audiences. They’re driving culture in many different ways, and reaching broader sets of audiences.”
Among Group Black’s launch partners is
Target, the retail chain. The GroupM client that has committed to spend $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025. That plan includes increasing its spend on Black-owned media companies to 5% of
its total ad budget by next year. For its part, GroupM this year launched its Media Inclusion Initiative that consists of clients that have pledged to at least 2% of their annual media budgets on
Montaque said Group Black will act as a catalyst to not only encourage that spending, but also to help Black creators develop sustainable business
“We have a philosophy at Group Black that is going to enable not only the members and various brands in the collective to be successful, but also compete
aggressively against the largest companies out there,” he said.