GMC and General Motors Team Up With Dallas-Based Marcus Graham Project To Increase Diversity in Media, Marketing, and Advertising

The automaker brands will sponsor the Marcus Graham Project's annual iCR8 Boot Camp for three years starting in 2022—the organization's 15-year anniversary. The bootcamp will provide real-world exposure and experience to diverse marketing and media aspirants, helping them bolster meaningful industry careers.

GMC says its vehicles “have the power to get the job done.” Now the automaker and its parent company, General Motors, are teaming up with the Dallas-based nonprofit Marcus Graham Project on a very different job—helping aspiring leaders who are Black, indigenous, and people of color to find careers in marketing, media, and advertising.

GMC and GM will invest in the exposure, training, and mentorship of emerging leaders to bring more diverse voices to the three industries, as part of a multi-year commitment with the Marcus Graham Project (MGP). 

To help the organization invest in programs that enact change and foster greater equality, GMC and General Motors will sponsor MGP’s annual iCR8 Boot Camp for three years starting in 2022—the organization’s 15-year anniversary. The bootcamp will provide real-world exposure and experience to diverse marketing and media aspirants, helping them bolster meaningful industry careers.

The collaboration—MGP’S first contractual multi-year commitment—advances General Motors’ mission to increase its investment in the ecosystem of racially diverse media, including the talent pipeline.

MGP founder calls it “the perfect marriage”

“When GMC approached us offering their support of the program ahead of our 15-year anniversary, it felt like a perfect marriage from the beginning, due to the true interest in the brand’s commitment to building a pipeline of diverse marketing professionals,” said Lincoln Stephens, co-founder and chairman of the MGP, in a statement. 

“It is also serendipitous given that General Motors was my client when the Marcus Graham Project was conceptualized and founded in 2007,” Stephens added.

From left: CJ Pasley, MGP Program Director; Lincoln Stephens, MGP co-founder and CEO; Jason White, MGP Board Member and CMO of MTV;  Larry Yarrell, MGP co-founder  [Photo: Marcus Graham Project]

The current pace of diversity: equality in 2079

The task ahead is challenging. The MGP says that at the current rate of hiring, retention, and promotion, the advertising, media, and marketing industries won’t reflect America’s true diversity until the year 2079.

The challenge is even greater in leadership roles. In 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics surveyed advertising and promotion managers in the U.S. and found that less than one percent (0.7%) were Black

“General Motors is proud to work with an impactful organization such as the Marcus Graham Project to help create opportunities and pathways for diverse talent in media and marketing, especially those in their early careers,” said Tarshena Armstrong, GM’s director of diversity marketing and development, in the statement.

“GM and its global brands are continuously reaching and engaging with increasingly diverse audiences,” she added, “which is why it’s crucial that our teams are reflective of the customers and communities we serve.”

Duncan Aldred, global vice president of Buick & GMC, said GMC was looking forward to working with the MGP to promote and advance its mission.

“Dynamic and diverse talent drives innovation at GMC, and we’re committed to creating inclusive spaces that set our teams up for successful careers,” Aldred said.

“Pop-up agency” will market a GMC nameplate

[Image: Marcus Graham Project]

The GMC-sponsored iCR8 Boot Camp will give emerging marketers the opportunity to add their creative voice to some of the brand’s marketing initiatives.

Participants will be tasked with creating a marketing campaign for one of the GMC nameplates, exposing them to the real-world campaign development process. They’ll be able to meet one-on-one with GM and GMC marketing stakeholders to learn about amplification strategies, and see a core pillar program roll out from end to end.

The boot camp team will function as a “pop-up agency” for GMC. It will also  provide consulting services for other brands, minority-owned small businesses, or nonprofits.

Interested applicants can go here for more information about the iCR8 Boot Camp sponsored by GMC and how to apply. Applications will be accepted until November 5th. The 11-week Boot Camp is scheduled to begin on Martin Luther King Weekend in Dallas on Jan. 17, 2022.

Marcus Graham Project’s $1M Hennessy collaboration

Last April, Dallas Innovates wrote about another brand collaboration with the MGP: the launch of a $1 million acceleration fund with cognac distiller Hennessy to create a more equitable ecosystem for Black entrepreneurs. 

Called “Never Stop Never Settle Society,” the comprehensive growth accelerator built on a long-standing commitment that Hennessy, the world’s best-selling cognac, has made to Black communities. The liquor distiller, which is headquartered in Cognac, France and distributed in the U.S. by Moët Hennessy USA, has a mission to champion cultural diversity by “pushing the limits of potential” for Black founders.

Hennessy has been a longtime supporter of the Marcus Graham Project, and previously sponsored its annual gala and bootcamp fellowship program.

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