This story was originally published in Ad Age.
Following last year’s commitments from brands and agencies to shift some ad dollars to media channels that are focused on diverse communities, the next question is how to make sure these were not one-off pledges and grow the pot.
Omnicom Media Group is working on bringing additional dollars to these channels with a new biannual event that pairs brands with media partners in an effort to build investments in diversity, equity and inclusion.
The agency hosted the first of its so-called “infronts” last month, connecting clients with diverse-owned and targeted media partners, aiming to bring brands that haven’t necessarily invested in the space into the fray in a meaningful way, as well as offering brands who’ve been active a chance to connect with new partners. The event featured two days of conversations between a dozen OMG clients—including from healthcare, financial services, and luxury retail—with 20 diverse media partners including Canela Media, NGL Collective, Asian Media Group, LATV, BET, Univision, Telemundo, Vox’s Popsugar Latina and BuzzFeed’s Cocoa Butter.
The goal of the “infronts” is to help create awareness of these partners, but with more of a hyper-focused, intentional approach, said Michael Roca, OMG’s managing director of DE&I investment. “There is a huge need to increase awareness and consideration of these partners from a portfolio perspective,” Roca said.
So far, the “infronts” have led to brands looking to explore content opportunities with these media companies surrounding the upcoming 50th anniversary of hip-hop in 2023 and World Cup content this fall, Roca said.
‘There’s still work to be done’
The push comes as the industry’s all-important upfront ad haggle is about to begin, and Madison Avenue is called upon to expand early efforts to invest more in diverse-owned channels that have long been overlooked. Many media agencies, including Magna Global and GroupM, have been hosting sessions to familiarize clients with these media channels, and have made commitments to allocate a portion of their clients’ budgets to diverse-owned publishers. OMG has not made a specific pledge to allocate clients’ budgets to diverse-owned media; instead, it launched a Diverse Creators Network last summer, which aims to elevate creators of color.
“We need more clients and agencies to get serious about these initiatives, which means following the audience and having an impact with their marketing resources and dollars. If we get fair and equal representation, client businesses will be healthier,” said Raymond Goulbourne, executive VP of media sales at BET.
Omnicom named Clorox, State Farm, Delta and Hormel among its clients involved in the initiative. The next event in the series is slated to take place in October.
“Representation continues to be a critical factor shaping the marketplace and we’re encouraged by the expanding number of brands leaning into minority targeted investments—but, there’s still work to be done,” said John Kozack, EVP of U.S. Multimedia Sales at TelevisaUnivision, which is involved in the initiative. “The population surge and economic power of U.S. Hispanics offers the biggest growth opportunity for brands today, which is why we’re working closely with agency partners like OMG to help clients build reach to incremental audiences.”
Vevo’s Robert Vélez, VP of U.S. multicultural and Latam sales, echoed that “multicultural buys have become the keystone of a mass-market strategy.”
“Where your ad runs is an endorsement of the surrounding content, so it’s imperative to invest in premium, diverse-led content that truly embodies cultural nuance and is accurately and fairly representative,” Vélez added. “Advertisers need to take accountability and responsibility for the environment where their ads run.”