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Issa Rae’s Ensemble Aims To Close The 35% Pay Gap For Black Influencers – Here’s How


Issa Rae’s Ensemble Aims To Close The 35% Pay Gap For Black Influencers – Here’s How

Issa Rae, the creator of HBO’s “Insecure” and “A Black Lady Sketch Show,” is launching a new venture called Ensemble with the goal of helping to close the significant pay gap between Black influencers and their White counterparts, Business Insider reports.

Research from public relations agency MSL in 2021 found that Black influencers made 35% less than White influencers on average. This pay disparity exists despite the rapidly growing market for influencer marketing, which media research firm PQ Media predicts will see spending increase by 8.4% to $46 billion in 2024 after a slowdown in 2023.

According to Bussines Insider, Ensemble aims to tackle this pay gap issue head-on by connecting a network of over 50 up-and-coming creators of color, including Leo Gonzalez, Mark Phillips, and Drew Afualo, with major brands seeking influencer marketing campaigns. The company has already signed Pepsi, Chili’s, and Popeyes as clients.

“We want Ensemble to be seen as a general market company,” Montrel McKay, President of Development and Production at Rae’s media company, Hoorae Media, told BI. “We want to go after media budgets. We don’t want to go after small allocations that are for diversity buys.”

Ensemble will operate separately from Hoorae’s other divisions, such as the entertainment production label and audio company Raedio. It is funded by Rae and led by advertising veterans Ian Schafer as co-founder and President, Matt Berger as Head of Revenue, and Keith Lee as Head of Revenue Operations.

“We just see it as an evolution of the next generation of talent discovery, and the path is not obvious,” Schafer said for BI. “The thesis is that the future talent is much more likely to be discovered by audiences and financed by brands.”

While many agencies offer influencer marketing services, Ensemble differentiates itself by working closely with creators to better package and position them for brand partnerships. Business Insider cites the example of Ensemble arranging for creator Leo Gonzalez to act as a spokesperson for Chili’s and had Dallas Turner integrate Popeyes into content celebrating his NFL draft selection.

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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