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By Chris Sutcliffe | Senior reporter

April 22, 2022 | 4 min read

On this week’s episode of The Drum Show, Chris Sutcliffe, senior reporter for tech at The Drum, is joined by a panel of experts to discuss the influencer pay gap, and ask whether the industry is doing marketing around religious festivals right.

There is a huge risk for brands that seek to engage with identity – racial, religious and sexual. When done without understanding and expertise, there is the possibility they can appear tokenistic or mercenary in intent. But does that mean they shouldn’t make the effort – or does it just come down to doing representation right?

Last week we spoke about Ogilvy’s decision to restrict the work it does with influencers who use excessive filters and editing. It was seen as a step in the right direction for the influencer marketing industry but, as this next story shows, there’s an awfully long way to go to make the sector equitable and representative.

Charlotte Williams is founder of SevenSix Agency. In 2020, her team published a pricing report to uncover the lack of fair payment experienced by underrepresented influencers. The report found that 37% of respondents believed that their ethnicity negatively impacts the amount they earn.

Similarly, global communications firm MSL produced a report last year further highlighting the stark racial disparity in influencer pay in the US. According to their research, the racial pay gap between white and Black, Indigenous and People of Color influencers is 29%, with nearly half (49%) of Black influencers reporting that their race contributed to an offer below market value.

So, with an issue this widespread and endemic to the influencer marketing industry, how widespread is the awareness of that pay gap? Charlotte provides an update on how the industry is changing, and what the influencers themselves think of having to work on an unlevel playing field.

In our second topic we explore the realities of marketing around religious festivals.

Last week we published a piece from Mouna Kalla-Sacranie, senior strategist, Blue State. She argued that brands are wrong to think Ramadan is just another window to drive consumerism: “It is not about mindless consumption, but mindful abstention. Brands that seek to capitalize better be careful.”

She stated: “Every year in the run-up to the holy month, numerous reports and articles are published quantifying the astonishing value of the ‘Global Muslim Economy.’ Across the marketing sphere – and even in the charity sector – conversations around the ‘Muslim pound’ have grown increasingly prominent (and, at times, predatory), with Ramadan being positioned as a key moment and opportunity space for brands that wish to ‘lean in’ to Muslim audiences.”

Asad Dhunna, founder and chief executive of The Unmistakables, then discusses the work his team did around Tesco’s celebrated Ramadan Campaign. He and Lucy Morris, executive editor of SEEN Connects, discuss when representation and inclusivity can be used to market rather than merely educate. Finally, the panel asks whether it is desirable to use commercial imperatives to improve representation in the marketing industry.

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