Influencer Sued for Allegedly Not Influencing Nearly as Hard as He Was Paid To

By Tom McKay on at

Grown-ish actor and reported onetime Kourtney Kardashian suitor Luka Sabbat is facing down a lawsuit from Snap Inc.’s public relations firm, PR Consulting, for allegedly violating the terms of an “influencer” agreement worth £46,000.

Influencer is a vague term that basically translates to anyone with a social media presence who is willing to cash in on it, such as by accepting money to endorse products or simply be seen using them. For marketers, influencers are great, because celebrities can pitch products directly to their fans, and it’s often more cost-effective than a traditional advertising campaign.

For those who are not marketers or influencers, the line is a little murkier: No one is really under the illusion that, say, those hundreds of millions of dollars were not on LeBron James’ mind when he signed his Nike contract. But influencer marketing on social media is often associated with ethically questionable behaviour in violation of Federal Trade Commission rules, such as failure to disclose what influencers have been paid to promote. Then there’s the fact that sometimes, self-described influencers are only vaguely influential.

In this case Sabbat, who is a genuine celebrity, is accused of not even bothering to follow through on the terms of his influencing agreement.

Variety reported that the lawsuit (visible here on the New York state court website) alleged that Sabbat, who has 1.4 million followers on Instagram, took a £35,000 upfront payment on a £46,000 deal promoting Snap’s Spectacles product before reneging. In the documents, PR Consulting alleged that Sabbat was expected to “create original content for a minimum of four (4) unique posts: one (1) Instagram Feed post and three (3) Instagram story posts.” The posts in question were supposed to be made during New York Fashion Week as well as fashion shows in Milan or Paris, and Sabbat was additionally expected to pose for photos wearing the Spectacles during the European shows.

Instagram/lukesabbat

Despite this easily qualifying as one of the most decadent ways imaginable to score £46,000, PR Consulting wrote in the court filings that Sabbat only made two of the posts and did not clear them beforehand with the PR firm as required:

Notwithstanding the foregoing, Sabbat only made one Instagram Feed Post and one Instagram Story post and failed to post 1 additional Instagram story in New York, with a swipe-up link, 1 Instagram story in Milan or Paris, with a swipe-link, and failed to be photographed in public at least once (1) in the aforementioned cities while wearing Spectacles product.

... Furthermore, Sabbat did not submit the post to PRC prior to pasting and failed to provide analytics to PRC for his first Instagram Story, as required by the Agreemêñt. Analytics for his one Instagram feed post were provided past the agreed 24-hour mark from posting.

PR Consulting added in the filings that “Sabbat admitted his default but nonetheless, refused to return any of the funds paid by to him PRC,” and is seeking the return of the £35,000 upfront payment as well as £35,000 in damages, plus interest and attorney’s fees.

A Snap spokesperson told Gizmodo via email that they had no involvement in PR Consulting’s decision to file suit.

While £46,000 is a lot of money to post a few times about Spectacles, Snap has much bigger financial problems on their hands right now. The company has been haemorrhaging cash for years, including tens of millions on unsold Spectacles. Their latest earnings report showed they had significantly cut down on those losses but were still losing £250 million a quarter. As TechCrunch noted, the bad publicity resulting from this suit may end up costing a lot more than £70,000. [Variety]

Featured image: Luca Bruno (AP)