WHO WE ARE

Influencer Video by @iampriiincesss for Unison

CLEVER was founded in 2009.
By influencers.
For influencers.

As influencers ourselves, we knew we were best positioned to help our clients tell their brand stories. The agency we created was so new and innovative, that the term “influencer marketing” didn’t even exist yet. We called ourselves a social media marketing agency, then a content marketing agency, and, finally, after influencer marketing became widely accepted as a powerful marketing strategy — not simply a PR afterthought — we called ourselves an influencer marketing agency. 

But not just any influencer marketing agency — an industry leading, standards and practices-setting pioneer. If you are at all familiar with how influencer marketing is practiced today — with the understanding that influencers must be contracted and paid for their services, or that the human element is critical to influencer selection, or that influencers are a critical part of any sales and marketing plan — it’s because of the foundation we laid. 

Yeah. We did that.

Our values are to empower women, be authentic, and be exceptional. As an agency started by women and a woman of color, for women, because of the women who came before us, we have always put women first.

Central to CLEVER’s mission was — and still is — supporting the personal and professional goals of female entrepreneurs, which is how we view every member of our network. We set about doing this in two ways. First, by bringing our network members paid opportunities for their work in an industry where women were, and still are, often underpaid, especially if they are Black or women of color. Second, by donating our time, expertise, and charitable contributions to intersectional non-profits who uplift women, girls, and female-identifying folks.

Over a decade later, we find ourselves at a crossroads. 

We live in much different times than when CLEVER first started. Since the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, we, as a company, have been confronted with some very harsh realities. We’ve reexamined our values and mission, and strive to deepen their meaning. We’ve been doing the very uncomfortable work of becoming an anti-racist organization, work we know will never stop.

Because Black lives matter. 

People are waking up to the realities of the world, and are demanding change. As an agency, we cannot continue to operate as we have been, because by doing so, we perpetuate systemic white supremacy and racism. While we still believe that influencers tell the best brand stories, we now have a renewed purpose and mission.

We believe when we work authentically, transparently, and courageously with influencers, we can create exceptional content to tell an even better brand story, and, most importantly, create social change.

At CLEVER today, we:

  • Notice, name, and dismantle systems of white supremacy, patriarchy, ableism, and other forms oppression that have excluded and continue to exclude people from the field
  • Increase representation of Black, Indigenous, and Non-Black people of color (in all of their intersectional identities) at CLEVER and throughout the influencer marketing industry at all levels
  • Shift power, money, and resources in ways that create increased equity for Black and Indigenous influencers and content creators
  • Partner with brands at every stage of their social impact journey to access the scope and power of influencers to create activations that live up to their values.

Our anti-racist mission is central to this work. 

Lack of diversity, opportunity, and misrepresentation in marketing and advertising has caused tremendous harm to Black and Non-Black people of color. But, we believe positive social impact is made—and consumer trust is repaired — when media and advertisers center the voices, images, and stories of the marginalized and diversify media representation. 

We also believe that is great for business. 

As CLEVER enters our second decade of work with a renewed sense of purpose and mission, we are still the best partner agency for brands who want consumers to understand their corporate values and mission, who want to earn and retain their consumers’ trust, who want the world to know exactly what they stand for. 

Let’s tell your story.