Target partners with Black-Led Media Company in startup competition

Target Corp. on Wednesday announced its partnership with a black-run media company to create a new round of pitch competitions for black entrepreneurs.

Bet on black is a Shark aquarium-meets-Project track Style show that will feature a dozen black-owned startups across a range of industries including entertainment, technology and beauty. They will compete for a cash prize of $ 500,000 with no strings attached. Four finalists will also have one-on-one meetings with Target executives for additional mentorship and advice. Competing founders will be coached by strategists from Target’s Forward Founders business accelerator program and judged by a panel including music artist T-Pain, costume designer Zerina Akers and radio personality / record producer DJ Envy. .

The series will launch Jan. 10 online and on Revolt, a black-owned cable TV network and digital media platform that Target has partnered with to create the show.

Target’s senior vice president of marketing Maurice Cooper said the show and partnership with Revolt is just one example of how the company is expanding its commitment to various media organizations. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Target made several equity-based commitments, including a pledge to invest at least 5% of its annual media budget with black-owned media companies starting in 2022. The retailer has also pledged to spend $ 2 billion with Black-owned suppliers by 2025.

In 2021, Cooper said, Target invested four times more in black-owned media than last year and doubled its black-owned media partners. The company did not provide further details, other than saying Bet on black is a “multi-million dollar investment.”

“While there is still work to be done, we have really stepped on the gas to take substantial action towards our goal,” Cooper said in a statement.

But not everyone applauds. “They completely missed the ball,” said Sheletta Brundidge, Twin Cities-based broadcaster, founder of the SHElettaMakesMeLaugh podcast network, which provides a platform for black voices. “This is not how you support black business and black media. They always talk about what they’re going to do and don’t do it.

To his nearly 6,000 Twitter followers on Wednesday, Brundidge tweeted “Instead of spending 5% of their advertising budget on black media like they promised after George Floyd died, they want us on a reality show competing for money like those teachers at the hockey game. from South Dakota. ” She was referring to the recent “dash for cash” viral video which was widely criticized on social media for causing teachers to scramble in the field for money.

This is not the first time Brundidge has spoken out and demanded that Target and other large corporations be held accountable for their commitments to black-owned businesses. In November, she joined other black media leaders in the Twin Cities for a panel discussion on the topic chaired by the St. Paul Center for Economic Inclusion.

“No one is holding their toes to the fire,” Brundidge said. “We’re trying to feed our families, build our businesses and that’s what you are committed to helping us do. Now you are creating a reality show around that for entertainment.

While not specifically addressing Brundidge – whose calls and emails to the company have gone unanswered, she said – Target has responded to some of its concerns, and those raised at the Center for Economic Inclusion roundtable, in its Wednesday announcement. “We continue to work to make it easier for black-owned media companies to connect with us and to provide more transparency in how we assess each potential partnership,” Cooper said. “We aim to be more than just a customer of these companies – we want to be a true partner, which means investing in their core business to help broaden and deepen their capabilities so that they can grow faster. It’s about helping them thrive, which, in turn, helps evolve the media industry as a whole to be more representative of the American public.

Cooper said potential partners will be assessed based on their “reach, values, capabilities and relevance to our customers.” Her advice for new partners: contact us by email at [email protected] Cooper added, “We are excited to make even more connections over the coming year and to continue our investment in the next generation of powerful black-owned media. “

Target has already worked with the Revolt network; the retailer is a “long-standing” partner of the brand and has sponsored at least three other series. Launched by rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs in 2013, Revolt bills himself as a “shameless and authoritative voice of Hip Hop culture,” but the network’s programming also includes news and coverage of social justice issues.

Cathy W. Howerton