A TikToker by the name of Dana (@taehungz) went viral after responding to influencer Victoria Paris’ clip, one Dana says is a prime example of how “diabolical” the influencer marketing game is.
Dana posted a snippet of Paris’ clip where the mega-influencer references how she made thousands of dollars on one deal and then delineated how she negotiated $20,000 for another in the early stages of her career. Dana believes that burgeoning influencers of color attempting to secure brand deals are at a disadvantage compared to their white counterparts.
Dana clarifies that her video is “no shade or hate” to Paris, but instead a basis for the conversation about pay transparency in the influencer industry.
“There’s a saying that’s like, ‘pray that your name is mentioned in rooms that you don’t exist.’ That is the entire influencer marketing world,” Dana shares. “Like somebody with authority has to see the value in your content for you to be recommended for a brand and for the most part, it’s not Black people in these positions.”
She continues that due to the ethnic makeups of these decision-makers, non-white influencers trying to make money off of their posts are earning far less than white influencers.
“Influencer marketing is a very white-dominated industry so the entry-level coordinators she was mentioning in another video that sent PR to influencers cause they wanna be their friend — they’re white,” Dana says. “The agents are white. The managers in charge of making the decisions on which influencers will be recommended to get a paid brand deal — they’re white.”
Dana shares her own anecdotal experience in dealing with marketing professionals who decide which influencers to pay for branding deals.
“I worked at three different agencies and I was either one of the only Black girls or like one of three, either on my team or like within the entire company. Nobody was dark-skinned,” Dana says. “And influencers that they work with look like everyone else in the office.”
Dana continues that the few non-white creators marketing agencies work with are rarely dark-skinned. “The colorism, the featurism, and the texturism, it’s terrible,” Dana says. “And they’re still being offered lowball rates compared to the white influencers they work with 24/7.”
She says creators who hope pivoting their content will land them brand deals are mistaken.
“Doesn’t matter what you talk about…if the person who’s in charge of making a big spreadsheet of influencers to recommend to a brand for a campaign does not think about or care about Black creators you are never gonna see a deal,” she says.
She then began to discuss how “white mediocrity” trumps “guaranteed Black excellence” citing how there were many instances of white influencers she’s never heard of earning more money than Black reality TV show personalities.
She finished her video by stating, “If you are a Black creator, if you are a creator of color, and you have an established audience and you’re just frustrated as to why you’re not getting brand deals I need y’all to know it has nothing to do with you. It’s these racist-ass agencies.”
@taehungz The way I can’t even fit all I wanna say into this vid LMAO the agendas are rampant in this industry yall pls be easy on yourself 🤍 #influencermarketing #blackcreators #poccreators #ytsupremacy #blacktiktok #fyp#greenscreenvideo ♬ original sound – dana
TikTok is one of the most-used social media applications where influencers can make bank, and according to Hopper’s top-ten list of highest earners, three of them are white: Charli D’Amelio, her sister Dixie, and Addison Rae.
Throngs of TikTokers who saw Dana’s post expressed their regret in this double standard. Others stated that they have experienced this pay disparity themselves, while some began to formulate ideas on how to attain pay equity for non-white creators.
“What do we do about it? How do we poc get recognized?” a top comment read.
Another shared, “But a lot their ‘influence’ is our culture.”
“I think this is a really important conversation to have,” a user wrote. “Brands are paying $20,000 to an influencer to do an ad. That’s insane. That’s not even including the free trips, meals, and clothing/merch that is given. And Black creators are being LEFT OUT. Crazy when you think about it.”
Verified French beauty Influencer Sibylle wrote in the comments section in response to Dana’s post: “This pushed me to create my own brand to cater to my audience. The racism is so deep over here in France…. I never get deals.”
Some added that the solution is to not look for deals through white companies but rather create their own brands and products for their audience themselves, as opposed to creating partnerships with companies that predominantly employ white influencers.
“CANNOT WAIT UNTIL WE START DOING OUR OWN THING,” a viewer said.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Dana via TikTok comment for further information.
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*First Published: Nov 25, 2022, 7:14 pm CST
Jack Alban is a freelance journalist for the Daily Dot covering trending human interest/social media stories and the reactions real people have to them. He always seeks to incorporate evidence-based studies, current events, and facts pertinent to these stories to create your not-so-average viral post.