Posted Dec. 3, 2007 – Black folks sure love their GM autos. But does General Motors love African-Americans?
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It sure doesn’t look that way, not after the car giant decided to tow Black-owned advertising agency, Carol H. Williams, from its corporate lot.
"We understood and continue to understand that GM is committed to African American advertisers, but perhaps this business consideration doesn't reflect the importance of the loyalty of the African American market to GM," Williams said of the company's decision to give her advertising agency the boot.
Williams' company handled four GM accounts: Cadillac, Chevy, GMC, and Hummer. All the accounts, with the exception of Chevy, were snatched from her agency. The reason: The company wants their sales campaign to be more "multicultural," according to GM spokeswoman Ryndee Carney.
But according to Ken Smikle, founder and publisher of Target Market News, a Chicago-based research firm that monitors African American marketing and media, "the only consistent growth GM has had with its top brands is with African American buyers."
Black ad agencies like Carol H. Williams and Translation Consultation & Brand Imaging are responsible for ads that feature Black artists like Mary J. Blige, featured in the picture above, 50 Cent and T.I. with their favorite GM automobile.
In a 2006 report from R.L. Polk & Co., new vehicle sales to minority customers were up about 18 percent. In the same report, Lonnie Miller, director of industry analysis at R.L. Polk & co., said automakers who shun repeat business from minority customers "risk missing out on the biggest growth opportunity in the auto industry right now," noting that minority buying power is expected to grow another 14 percent by the year 2010.
"African American agencies are more expert at niche marketing whether they are talking to working moms, young adults or African Americans. They have earned their bread and butter by crafting very focused, strategic ads," says Smikle. "[Carol H. Williams Advertising] should have been given the opportunity to compete for general market business instead of having everything they've worked on taken away from them."
GM says that Williams and other Black ad agencies are being considered for their 2008 advertising roster.