Advertisers flock to new awards show honoring African-American talent

    • The first broadcast of a new award ceremony celebrating African-American achievement in arts, culture and society attracted major sponsors, including Amazon, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, JPMorgan Chase and Ford Motor Company, per a news release.
    • Byron Allen Presents TheGrio Awards, a co-production between Allen Media Group (AMG) and Backhand Productions, aired on CBS and streamed on Paramount+ over Thanksgiving weekend. Dave Chapelle, Jennifer Hudson and Queen Latifah were among the cultural figures honored at the black-tie gathering, while Sheryl Underwood and Taye Diggs held hosting duties. 
    • A strong advertiser lineup for the event reinforces marketers’ continued interest in award-show programming, along with growing mandates to increase diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at the company and societal levels. 

    Even as rocky TV ratings impact other major award shows, such as the Oscars and Grammy AwardsTheGrio Awards drew an impressive advertising slate in its first run. This signals that award shows, especially ones honoring historically disadvantaged groups, still have room to grow consumer appeal, while advertisers are eager to sponsor such initiatives as they try to improve DEI. 

    P&G’s work around the event was focused on its My Black Is Beautiful line, speaking to how some partners were using the opportunity to promote more targeted products. Additional brand advertisers at the show included: AbbVie, America’s Best, Campbell’s, Capital One, Chick-fil-A, Diageo, Domino’s, Genentech, GSK, Hyundai, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg, Kraft, Lexus, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Meta, Novartis, Olive Garden, Pizza Hut, SC Johnson, Stellantis, Toyota, Uber, Unilever and Wendy’s.

    For AMG CEO Byron Allen, creating the program was a way to inspire the next generation of African-American talent in the same way that he was as a kid. The media mogul has been a vocal critic of brands’ perceived DEI shortcomings. Last year, he sued McDonald’s over alleged discrimination in the fast food chain’s advertising practices. The case is ongoing while the executive has indicated he could take a similar approach to spur other advertisers to increase their spending with Black-owned media.  

    “Celebrating and amplifying iconic individuals is something we can never do enough of, especially for our children,” Allen said in a press statement around TheGrio Awards.

    Founded in 1993, AMG owns 27 ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates spanning 21 markets. The company purchased TheGrio, a video-centric news platform designed to provide African-American audiences with compelling stories and perspectives, in 2016.

    AMG isn’t the only advertising entity trying to shake up the homogenous award space. For this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, Oscar Mayer took aim at the show’s lack of female representation.


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