Snapchat’s PR firm is suing an influencer for failing to influence

Being a social media “influencer” doesn’t just mean having the power to influence; it also means doing some actual influencing.

In an interesting case that’s just emerged, a so-called influencer has been named in a lawsuit for allegedly failing to fulfill the terms of their contract. The case involves Grown-ish actor Luka Sabbat and it’s been brought by a public relations company hired by Snap, the company behind Snapchat.

Social media influencers usually have a large online following, or strong links to a smaller audience in a niche area. They can then use their reach to command hefty payments — or valuable gifts and perks — in exchange for including a product in one of their online posts.

Sabbat, who has 1.4 million followers on Instagram, was approached by Snapchat’s public relations agency, PR Consulting (PRC), to do a spot of influencing for Spectacles 2, the latest edition of Snap’s camera glasses. The contract involved a deal worth $60,000, with $45,000 landing in the actor’s pocket upfront.

The lawsuit states that 20-year-old Sabbat was contracted to wear the specs in one of his Instagram feed posts and three Stories posts, two of which had to include swipe-to-buy links.

He was also expected to post Instagram photos of him wearing the specs at Paris and Milan Fashion Weeks.

The posts were supposed to be pre-approved by PRC, who also wanted to see the analytics data related to each of Sabbat’s Spectacles-related posts.

But PRC claims Sabbat failed to live up to his role of influencer, posting only one feed photo, one story, and one swipe-to-buy. Also, PRC said it never had a chance to pre-approve any of the content, and never saw any of the analytics data.

The suit also alleges that Sabbat “admitted his default” in failing to fulfill the terms of the contract but has “refused to return any of the funds paid to him by PRC.”

The public relations firm is seeking reimbursement of the up-front fee, plus another $45,000 in additional damages.

If the case goes in PRC’s favor, it could have a lasting effect — or should we say “influence” — on future cases where a celebrity fails to endorse a product in the way that was agreed in the contract, or at the least it could persuade celebrities who accept payments for online endorsements to take careful note of the contract’s conditions.

Still, if any publicity is good publicity, then perhaps this latest coverage won’t work out too badly for Snap and version two of its Spectacles. After all, following the apparent failure of the original Spectacles to set the world alight, it needs all the help it can get. Including from influencers that actually influence.

We’ve reached out to Snap for comment on the PRC case and will update this article if we hear back.


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