An Instagram influencer was sued for failing to wear Snap Spectacles in public

Are those grapes sponsored?
Are those grapes sponsored?
Image: AP Photo/Antonio Calanni
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Please picture this case in front of Judge Judy.

Luka Sabbat, a 20-year-old actor and model with over a million Instagram followers who recently went out in public with a Kardashian—all qualities that earn him the title of “influencer”—has been sued by the powerful fashion public relations firm PR Consulting for $90,000. His alleged wrongdoing? Failure to properly influence.

According to the case, filed on Oct. 30, PR Consulting claims to have signed an agreement with Sabbat, who has 1.4 million Instagram followers, to share three Instagram stories and one post of him wearing Snap Spectacles on his account. That’s right, Judge: Snap—a social network that makes sunglasses with cameras in them—spent money with a PR firm that contracted an influencer (AKA a person paid to sway their peers’ opinions on social media) to promote its products on Instagram, the social network currently eating Snap’s lunch.

According to PR Consulting, Sabbat posted only one story and one post (although that post does contain five images).

The case—which outlines the alleged stipulations of Sabbat’s contract—provides a fascinating window into the world of influencer marketing and how such deals are structured. Sabbat was allegedly paid $45,000 in advance of his $60,000 fee for appearing publicly in Snap’s video-capturing sunglasses at Fashion Weeks in New York, Milan, and/or Paris:

Two (2) of the Story posts were to be in New York, related to fashion shows and parties during New York Fashion Week (during the period of September 6, 2018 – September 12, 2018) and one (1) of 4 Story post in was to be in Milan or Paris, related to fashion shows and parties during Fashion Week (during the period of September 19, 2018 – September 25, 2018 for Milan or the period of September 24, 2018 – October 2, 2018). For the concluding NYFW Instagram Story Post and one Instagram Story Post for Milan or Paris Fashion Weeks, Sabbat was to include a swipe-up CTA using a provided hyperlink. Additionally, Sabbat agreed to be photographed in public wearing product tied to the ‘Spectacles Marketing Campaign’ during Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks.

What’s more, according to the case, the post Sabbat did share was never submitted to PR Consulting for approval—a common practice in the world of influencer marketing, where Instagram users are treated as independent creative directors—nor were proper analytics provided about its performance.

Sigh. This is a head-shaker of a story for all involved.

Snap has been trying to make Spectacles happen since 2016, when they launched. In 2017, the company was reportedly sitting on a glut of unsold, over-hyped glasses. Then they relaunched the accessories in summer of 2018: “Sales of the original models were massively underwhelming and the new glasses probably won’t do much to help Snap stem its heavy losses,”  Quartz’s Mike Murphy wrote then. At September Fashion Week, as we now know, Snap attempted to gain new fans with updated styles. But with this debacle, Sabbat just made their desperation into something of, well, a spectacle.