Fashion “it” boy Luka Sabbat is on the wrong end of a lawsuit for failing to live up to his influencer obligations. Welcome to 2018. According to the lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday in a New York state court by PR Consulting (“PRC”), Sabbat signed a $60,0000 deal with the New York-based public relations company to promote Snap, Inc.’s Spectacles glasses on Instagram during the Spring/Summer 2019 fashion shows in September and October, and to wear the glasses in public during that time. Shabbat allegedly accepted $45,000 up front and then failed to carry out his duties, thereby resulting in breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims.
PRC alleges in its complaint, which names Sabbat in a personal capacity, “Pursuant to an Influencer Agreement dated September 15, 2018, PRC engaged Sabbat to create and post certain content on social media in connection with a 'Spectacles Marketing Campaign' ... for PRC's client Snap, Inc.”
As part of the $60,000 deal, 20-year old Sabbat, who regards himself as a "young creative entrepreneur,” agreed to “create original content for a minimum of four unique posts: one Instagram Feed Post and three Instagram Story posts. Two of the Story posts were to be in New York, related to fashion shows and parties during New York Fashion Week ... and one Story post was to be in Milan or Paris, related to fashion shows and parties during [the respective] Fashion Weeks.”
He also agreed “to be photographed in public wearing product tied to the 'Spectacles Marketing Campaign' during Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks.”
Sabbat did, in fact, post “one Feed Post and one Story post,” on Instagram, where he maintains 1.4 million followers, but “failed to post 1 additional Instagram story in New York and 1 in Milan or Paris, and failed to be photographed in public at least once in the aforementioned cities while wearing Spectacles product.”
As a result, PRC not only wants its $45,000 back, but it wants Sabbat to pay interest and additional "consequential and incidental damages" for failing to make good on the contract that he signed. Oh, and PRC has asked the court to order him to foot its legal bill.
While this may be one of the first lawsuits filed against an influencer specifically for failing to uphold his end of an Instagram-specific promotion contract, industry sources reveal that such breaches are commonplace among influencers and celebrities, alike.
In terms of litigation, we commonly see cases filed in connection with celebrities’ failures to uphold their contractual duties to endorse/promote a brand, usually when it is one that bears their name. For instance, in 2016, Perfumania Holdings filed an $18 million lawsuit against Jay Z, for allegedly failing to promote his “Gold” fragrance. That same year, the Kardashians were hit with a $180 million lawsuit for allegedly “promising to and then failing and refusing to market and promote [their Kardashian Beauty] line.”
As for influencer contracts, particularly ones that call for social media activity, brands with smart legal teams have taken to including provisions in their influencer contracts that enable them to respond to — or maybe better yet, anticipate — such breaches by prorating payment (i.e., issuing payment after the fact that takes into account that only part of the contract was actually completed). This enables brands to pay less that the original contract price for services (since the contract was breached) and dodge unnecessary (and costly) lawsuits.
Such contract provisions are something that nearly all brands could benefit from.
A rep for Luka Sabbat was not immediately available for comment.
* The case is PR Consulting, Inc., v. Luka Sabbat, 655382/2018 (NY Sup).