Age reported on the latest philanthropic PR and heat
shield from GroupM,
promoting the media company’s new partnership with OZY—a
media and entertainment company providing connections to diverse audiences—designed
to bring a “responsibility-focused approach” to GroupM’s business. It appears
to be a twist on delegating
diversity via contracting content of color.
GroupM Takes A Responsibility-Focused Approach To Media
The media agency strikes a two-year deal with OZY to further
its DE&I efforts
As GroupM heads into the annual upfronts, making ad
commitments worth millions of dollars on behalf of clients, the media-buying
powerhouse is changing its approach to investment that focuses on social
To this end, it has struck a two-year deal with OZY, a
multi-platform media and entertainment company that boasts a connection with a
diverse audience of 75 million people, most of whom are millennial or Gen Z.
GroupM has historically been revered for its ability to use
its scale to drive better deals—including pricing—for its clients with media
“Inside of GroupM there has been a conscious awareness that,
as the media industry is evolving, you can’t do investment like we had in the
past—leveraging our scale and buying power,” says Kirk McDonald, CEO, GroupM
North America. “There needs to be more substance.”
The OZY partnership falls into GroupM’s “responsible
investment” buying framework, which focuses on brand safety, data ethics,
diversity, equity and inclusion, responsible journalism and sustainability. The
goal, according to McDonald, is to make advertising work better for people and
maximize media dollars through socially conscious buying to fund positive
This investment approach evolves valuation and measurement
methods to account for social and environmental impact like a media placement’s
carbon emissions, the diversity of audience makeup and a concerted emphasis on
local journalism and credible news sources.
This comes as the ad world looks to course-correct its role
in supporting systemic racism, both internal and in the ways it has done
business. While GroupM’s efforts aim to support DE&I efforts, they also
extend to other forms of social good.
“Socially-conscious media buying is really the only way to
support so many of the initiatives our clients are talking about,” McDonald
says. “We want to make sure the dollars they are using aren’t just driving
businesses, but also doing good.”
The deal with OZY will include the creation of original
video, audio and written series for GroupM clients, and consultation services
on trends and what’s new and next. While OZY is perhaps best known for its
morning newsletter, it also has podcasts, produces TV shows and an events arm
with festivals like OZY Fest.
McDonald points to OZY as the type of media company GroupM
will be looking to partner with more deeply moving forward—those that support
and expose fresh perspectives and audiences, he says.
Responsible investment doesn’t mean GroupM will compromise
its standards on where it places media, McDonald adds, noting that OZY is
“hot.” Instead, they will implement new standards on top of the ones already in
place that will force the team to work harder to find outlets that not only
drive scale but make a difference.
GroupM is the latest agency to strike a long-term deal with
OZY. Last month, Dentsu Media announced it had entered into a three-year
partnership with the brand as part of its “meaningful media” investment
strategy. The length of both the GroupM and Dentsu deals with OZY are notable,
and speak to the media company’s efforts to create long-term relationships
rather than one-off sponsorships.
“We want to strike partnerships that allow brands to work
with us in creative ways, and doesn’t feel like we are doing a one-off,” says
Carlos Watson, CEO and co-founder of OZY. “We want to build something that will
have real value for clients and partners, both addressing their immediate needs
and in the medium term.”
The entire industry plans to take a closer look at their
media dollars heading into this year’s spring ad haggle to see how companies
can shift more dollars into minority-owned and diversity-targeted media.
Media mogul Byron
Allen is leading a call for
brands to shift 2% of their media spend into Black-owned media. And other media
agencies like IPG Mediabrands are looking to educate clients on these types of
media companies through so-called “Equity
Upfronts” and other similar types of programs that feature
minority-owned and targeted media companies.