African-American media companies unite to illuminate black buying power with #INTHEBLACK campaign

theGRIO REPORT - In a historic show of unity, leading African-American media entities are uniting to bring awareness of black buying power to the large advertisers, brand leaders, and media planners who make ad buys through #INTHEBLACK.

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In a historic show of unity, leading African-American media entities are uniting to bring awareness of black buying power to large advertisers and general audiences through the #INTHEBLACK campaign, which launches today. “We’re bringing together leading media and advertising enterprises that serve African-American communities to showcase ways black consumers are growing in market influence, and to provide companies with greater opportunities to meet the needs of this valuable community and grow their businesses,” Derek J. Murphy, General Manager, Multicultural, of AOL Huffington Post Media Group, told theGrio about this groundbreaking endeavor.

The #INTHEBLACK campaign will highlight the fact that African-American spending reached a massive $957 billion dollars in 2010, and that blacks’ buying power is projected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2015. Noted trendsetters through their consumption, African-Americans comprise only 12 percent of the U.S. population, yet consistently outspend all ethnic groups in several key categories including electronics and entertainment.

Despite this, leaders in black media and advertising perceive that the robust nature of the black market has been overlooked, as has the necessity of targeting it through black media. #INTHEBLACK, which is backed by a massive group of firms ranging from Essence Communications to Black Enterprise, seeks to combat this misperception.

“The consortium will use its collective resources and strength to speak to the advertising community and consumer audience to raise awareness and create a sense of urgency around the economic opportunity the black consumer segment presents,” BET Networks, another notable partner, announced in a press release. “African-American media has the unique ability to reach the African-American consumer base directly and is an important resource in identifying and establishing trends within the black community. #INTHEBLACK aims to amplify the value of engaging African-Americans through black targeted media and agencies.”

Companies in the #INTHEBLACK coalition believe that, by marketing through black advertising agencies to place ads with African-American media outlets, Fortune 500 companies can optimally reach the lucrative black market as it grows. By working together, these firms can send a stronger and more effective message about the power of black media than has been previously possible.

“The conversation surrounding adequate investment in the strong black consumer audience from advertisers and key stakeholders has been happening in the industry for years,” Debra Lee, Chairman and CEO of BET Networks told theGrio. “#INTHEBLACK brings together some of the nation’s most influential media and advertising companies, closest to the African-American audience, to develop a unified strategy to encourage increased expenditures in the African-American consumer marketplace. As a collective, we are better positioned to demonstrate the value of targeting the black consumer audience and partnering with leading brands to help them succeed.”

Organizations in this collective include TheGrio, BET Networks, HuffPost BlackVoices, Inner City Broadcasting Company, Steve Harvey Radio, The Root, The Africa Channel, UniWorld Group, Johnson Publishing Company and Vibe Media, among a total of 26 participating businesses.

“Black Voices is proud to join with these other great media properties to highlight the vibrance of African-American media,” Christina Norman, Executive Editor of HuffPost BlackVoices, said of her #INTHEBLACK cohorts. “We truly share a unique connection with each other and our audiences, which is a great advantage in a fractured media landscape.”

Integrated messaging will hopefully capitalize on previous efforts of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and Nielsen, which are also both #INTHEBLACK participants, to educate the public about black buying power. The novel element of large-scale involvement across over two dozen companies adds dynamic power to this latest undertaking.

“The Root is proud to be associated with this collaborative and historic effort,” Donna Byrd, Publisher of The Root, added about this approach. “We believe that focusing our collective attention on the economic power of the African-American consumer will have a positive impact on the entire industry.”

Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb