Ellesse recently quit Insanity as a result of the call on September 29. She said the company displayed a lack of understanding for the needs of Black and intersectional content creators when it requested that she increase the regularity of her social media updates.
Ellesse posted a 90-second edited excerpt from the hour-long video call on her Instagram account last month. An industry source brought it to the attention of Deadline, saying it had been the talk of the UK agency community in recent days.
Ellesse said she felt “bulldozed” and ambushed on the “unacceptable” call. She accused Insanity of “gaslighting” her over her belief that an Instagram algorithm tweak had reduced engagement for content creators from diverse backgrounds.
In attempting to explain how others had also been affected by the algorithm change, an Insanity agent spoke favorably about the output of a “whiter than white” female client in the context of Ellesse’s social media activity.
The agent said on the Zoom call that the white client was “putting out content every single day” and had worked “really f*****g hard to cut through the noise.” The Insanity employee also accused Ellesse of “getting angry,” which she denied.
Insanity’s position was that all of its content creators had been impacted by the algorithm change, but it was working with brands to boost opportunities for influencers from diverse backgrounds. Insanity believes that the clip posted by Ellesse did not accurately reflect the whole conversation.
“I would like to try and work in a different way and work smarter, not harder, but it doesn’t feel like I’m being understood,” Ellesse said on the call.
The Insanity agent responded: “We don’t ever want to be in a position where we’re managing talent that aren’t happy with the service that we’re providing because … you’re just there getting angry at us and I don’t want that.”
In an interview with Deadline, Ellesse said she recorded the call because she feared that she would not be believed. She posted the clip on Instagram to “prevent it from happening to someone else.”
Ellesse explained: “I wanted Insanity to learn from this. You can’t just f***k around with people when you’re supposed to be in their corner fighting for them.”
Insanity said it had apologized to Ellesse and was investigating the matter. She has been invited to a meeting to discuss her concerns, while there is also talk of her doing consultancy work for Insanity in a bid to prevent a repeat of the incident.
Ellesse and Insanity held constructive conversations about her moving to new management. She had been represented by Insanity for four years.
An Insanity spokesperson said: “We are aware of a former client’s social media post which included an edited recording of a call between that client and one of our employees.
“We are thoroughly investigating the matter, have invited the client in to meet with us, and would like to make clear that the words used in that audio do not reflect what Insanity stands for. The wellbeing of all of our talent is extremely important to us. We have apologised to the former client and offered her our support.”
Insanity’s client roster includes Alice Levine, co-host of the My Dad Wrote a Porno podcast, and Jo Whiley, the veteran BBC radio DJ.