GM CEO called out by Black-owned media chiefs, Nike disowns Lil Nas X ‘Satan’ shoes: Monday Wake-Up Call

Welcome to Ad Age’s Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. If you’re reading this online or in a forwarded email, here’s the link to sign up for our Wake-Up Call newsletters. Black-owned media chiefs call out GM

General Motors CEO Mary Barra is being called out by leaders of Black-owned media companies for refusing to meet with them. As Ad Age’s Jeanine Poggi reports, a group of media owners took out a full-page ad in the Detroit Free Press on Sunday accusing Barra of ignoring multiple requests to meet, and the automaker of allocating less than 0.5% of their ad spend to Black-owned media. The ad is also expected to run later this week in the Wall Street Journal.

The leaders include Byron Allen, founder and CEO of Allen Media Group; rapper and actor Ice Cube, who owns the pro-basketball league Big3, production company Cubevision and Contract with Black America; Roland Martin, CEO of Nu Vision Media; and Junior Bridgeman, owner of Ebony Media.

The group is requesting a one-hour Zoom meeting with Barra and several key board members. “Mary, we and others firmly believe that if you continue to hold the position that Black Owned Media doesn’t deserve meaningful economic inclusion and we are not worth meeting with, then you should resign, effective immediately,” the ad says.

In regards to the claim that 0.5% of GM’s ad spend goes to Black-owned media, a GM spokesman said that figure is “not accurate,” and added that 80% of the company’s diverse-owned media spend is spent with Black-owned media outlets. The spokesman declined to provide details on how much the company spends on diverse-owned media. Dancing with the devil

A new line of Nike shoes hit the headlines this weekend — but for once, Nike itself wants nothing to do with them. “Old Town Road” rapper Lil Nas X  collaborated with Brooklyn-based streetwear company MSCHF on the so-called “Satan Shoes,” which, sensationally, “contain a drop of human blood” and are decorated with a pentagram pendant.

The modified Nike Air Max 97s were created using blood donated from members of the MSCHF team injected into the sole, reports the New York Times. The company is selling 666 pairs of the shoes, each for $1,018. They’re a follow-up to Lil Nas X’s new Satan-themed music video, “Montero,” which dropped last week; MSCHF previously released modified Nikes called “Jesus Shoes” that were injected with holy water.

Nike has denied any involvement with the product, which prompted some angry tweets after being announced on Palm Sunday weekend. “We do not have a relationship with Little Nas X or MSCHF. Nike did not design or release these shoes, and we do not endorse them,” it said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, Lil Nas X has stoked the fire: he posted a video on YouTube on Sunday titled “Lil Nas X Apologizes for Satan Shoe,” which turns out not to be an apology, but a link to his “Montero” video.Home improvement vs travel

Home improvement retailers are gearing up for spring — but they’re also going to have to compete with the resurgent travel industry for a share of consumers’ wallets. 

Ad Age’s Adrianne Pasquarelli writes that as vaccines roll out and consumers feel safer going on vacation, travel plans could pose a challenge for home-focused retailers, which have performed well during the pandemic.

Retailers are responding with new campaigns and ways to entice consumers to stores; for example, Lowe’s will host in-store demos, and offer free garden kits and other products like a piñata filled with mystery seeds, on special weekends. Home Depot, meanwhile, is hoping to tap into the sense of renewal and celebration that consumers are feeling after the chill of a COVID-filled winter with a trio of new commercials.

Which retail trends will outlive the pandemic? Hear from Petco, eBay, Klarna and more at Ad Age: Next Retail on April 20. Buy your ticket here.’Dear Destiny’

Hennessy partnered with hip-hop star Nas on a powerful new spot celebrating Black Excellence, which aired during the 52nd annual NAACP Image Awards on BET on Saturday.

As Ad Age’s Ethan Jakob Craft reports, the “Dear Destiny” spot is based on a letter from Nas to his daughter Destiny, and retells the history of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, a once-thriving Black neighborhood in the city often called “Black Wall Street” that was burned to the ground by white supremacists in 1921. The campaign, by Uninterrupted, launches Hennessy’s Never Stop Never Settle Society, a growth accelerator co-created with the Marcus Graham Project that will ensure Black entrepreneurs receive the resources, funding and infrastructure necessary to expand their businesses and help their communities prosper.Just briefly

Drivetime: Kimberly Gardiner, senior VP of marketing for Volkswagen of America, joins Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz on today’s edition of Ad Age Remotely at 11.30 a.m. EDT to discuss the automaker’s electric vehicle marketing push. Gardiner, who joined from Mitsubishi last year, will also talk about the auto industry’s recovery from the pandemic, and her broader plans for the VW brand.

The Week Ahead: It’s April Fools’ Day on Thursday, and we’ll be looking to see how brands handle the occasion this year after putting jokes on pause in 2020. Plus, Lululemon is reporting earnings, and you can tune into a new ABC reality series, “Pooch Perfect”  that focuses on dog grooming, with Rebel Wilson as host. Check our calendar roundup here. 

Wind of change: A giant wind turbine transforms into the Mercedes-Benz logo in a new global campaign from the automaker that celebrates harnessing the power of the wind. The cinematic spot, by Publicis Emil in Berlin, pushes the brand’s sustainability message, as it announces that it will use electricity drawn entirely from renewable energy sources in its factories from 2022. Watch here, and don’t forget to catch up with the Creativity team’s review of the Top 5 ideas of the week.

That does it for today’s Wake-Up Call, thanks for reading and we hope you are all staying safe and well. For more industry news and insight, follow us on Twitter:@adage. From CMO Strategy to the Ad Age Datacenter Weekly, we’ve got newsletters galore. See them all here. 

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