Why Publicis Media isn’t sharing its diverse-owned media commitment

Lisa Torres, president of Publicis Media’s multicultural practice, Cultural Quotient
Lisa Torres, president of Publicis Media’s multicultural practice, Cultural Quotient

The company has internal goals, but publicly is trading lip-service for action.

As holding companies make public commitments to increase their diverse-owned media investments this upfront season, Lisa Torres, president of Publicis Media’s multicultural practice, Cultural Quotient, said her agency is simply going to “do the work.” 

Cultural Quotient has overseen multicultural media buying at Publicis for 35 years. But this work has come to the forefront recently as the U.S. becomes a more multicultural nation, and conversations about investing in diverse media owners hits a tipping point.

Other holding companies have already made such commitments. For instance, IPG Mediabrands has committed to putting at least 5% of its aggregate client spend toward Black-owned media companies by 2023. WPP’s GroupM has called on its clients to spend at least 2% of their annual media budgets on Black-owned media by 2022. And Dentsu has created an Economic Empowerment group led by veteran media buyer Mark Prince aimed to grow investments with minority-owned publishers. 

Advertisers are also getting in on the trend. GM will allocate 4% of its media budget to diverse-owned outlets this year, increasing it to 8% by 2025, and McDonald’s will double its spend with diverse media owners from 4% of its total budget to 10% of its total budget by 2024. 

Publicis has also aimed to grow visibility of minority media owners in its organization. In 2019, Publicis Media’s investment strategy group, PMX, launched the Cultural Quotient partner series, a biweekly event that spotlights multicultural targeted and owned media companies to increase awareness among buyers and brands, and ultimately grow spend. 

The effort has paid off. Revenue for Cultural Quotient’s U.S. media activities targeting Latinx audiences and media owners were estimated at $71 million in 2020. 

But Torres said Publicis Media “has not” and “will not” make any public announcements about specific metrics. 

“We are an agent of our clients, so we have to work with [them] to figure out the right spend and where the investment should be,” she said. “Then that gets rolled up into a discussion of what the full spend will be across our portfolio, but we don't do that in the absence of our clients.” 

Of course, Publicis Media works to encourage such investments by offering its agencies and clients proprietary tools and guidelines. For example, the group offers a DE&I supplier assessment, a cultural maturity index, a consumer sentiment assessment and DE&I value metric audit, which analyzes which metrics drive the greatest media diversification and representation across all efforts. 

“These are things that we've already had in place for a long time and we didn't feel that it was appropriate to suddenly start talking about it,” Torres said. 

While she affirmed that Publicis Media has made an internal commitment as a benchmark for its media strategy, the company does not plan to make external statements. 

“We don't plan to [share that publicly],” Torres said. “We have all the mechanisms in place to ensure that we are supporting black-owned and other minority-owned and targeted media and we are also very committed to increasing supply so we can invest more.” 

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