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Rev. Jesse Jackson asks BMW to explain how "No Urban Dictate" was issued

(August 19, 2009) The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, has sent a letter to BMW expressing concern over the actions of one of the automaker's advertising agencies in issuing a "No Urban Dictate" for an upcoming BMW/MINI Cooper ad campaign. The request to discuss the matter comes after disclosure that BMW's media buying agency sent an email to stations requesting information on ad rates, but specifically stated "No combos or urban formats" should be included.

In a letter to BMW Chairman and CEO, Jim O' Donnell, Jackson called the exclusion of urban radio stations "disturbing." The letter also said, "This issue, along many others, continues to boycott communities of color and excludes us from participating on a level economic playing field even when we fully embrace and purchase your vehicles."

Jackson also questioned BMW's commitment to diversity by saying that the automaker had ignored earlier Rainbow PUSH requests for information and participation in discussions. "Because diversity and inclusion are so important to the automotive industry, each year Rainbow PUSH Automotive Project hosts a symposium whose mission and programs include a multitude of topics on diversity." wrote Jackson. "The symposium's purpose is to facilitate substantive dialogue, open communication on diversity opportunities, and to prevent this type of behavior recently demonstrated by BMW. However, you have repeatedly declined to participate in these dialogues."

"This speaks to your lack of transparency of your business practices as they relate to diversity," added Jackson.

The letter from the civil rights leader comes on the heels of a letter to BMW's O' Donnell from the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) requesting a meeting to discuss "a corporate culture that condones discriminatory practices."

Both NABOB and Rainbow PUSH have questioned the role of BMW's African-American ad agency of record, The Matlock Group, and whether it was using the expertise of the agency to avoid the exclusion of urban radio stations and other African-American media outlets in the placement of advertising.

Thus far, both organizations say they are still awaiting a response from BMW executives.

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