Can the Philanthropic initiative “Show Your Stripes” Survive I Heart Media’s Dark Days?
In 2013, I Heart Media proposed an initiative of using their radio, digital, and out-of-house (Public Service Announcements) resources to advocate the hiring of veterans to companies across the United States. They brought a number of famous musicians and celebrities including Elton John, John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Ryan Seacrest, Mario Lopez, Trace Adkins and LL Cool J to tell the stories of veterans thriving after transitioning from the military. I Heart Media lived up to their promise with spending over 100 million dollars over the years on the “Hire Smart-Hire Vets” campaign. I would certainly say that this initiative has been pretty successful as the veterans’ unemployment rate has dropped from 6.6% in 2013 to a record low of 3.5% as of February 2018.
Unfortunately, the company itself has not been the most successful in the last couple years. Ever since buying the billboard company Clear Channel Outdoor in 2008, the company has held a considerable amount of debt…about $20 billion. That debt has finally turned on I Heart Media as interest payments are stacking up and corresponding poor revenues since 2015. With more consumers using streaming providers like Pandora and Spotify, it is projected that radio ad revenues will continue to fall. The company has recently filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and agreements have been made to restructure about $10 billion of the debt. I Heart Media has not recently updated about the status of their “Show Your Stripes” initiative, but it might be safe to assume they are not pouring the amount of cash into the program as in previous years. For now, the status of the program and survival of I Heart Media itself are both unclear.