Earlier this month, Snapchat’s PR firm announced that they were suing creator Luka Sabbat, who failed to live up to his end of the bargain for a campaign around Spectacles V2. According to the lawsuit from PR Consulting, the Grown-ish actor, male model, and Kardashian companion skipped out on the majority of the publicity posts he agreed to — including two Instagram Story features, one swipe-up, several photo shoots, and pre-approvals from the firm. Plus, Sabbat — or rather, Sabbat’s team — never delivered the analytics from the campaign.

This type of behavior, though rare, can occur among big personalities striking influencer marketing deals, especially when they don’t have the right team in place to manage business relationships. A recent TechCrunch article shines a light on another important point to consider: influencer marketing could get a lot more accountable if Snapchat’s PR firm wins this lawsuit.

Takeaways from the Snapchat suit:

  1. Influencer marketing as a marketing idea has become ubiquitous, but the meat of the business of influencer marketing still has much growing up to do. From Unilever recently calling out the fake followers epidemic plaguing the industry to holding creators accountable to their campaign terms, brands need to treat social brand advocacy like other digital marketing mediums and leverage tools/ platforms to help facilitate processes. Advertisers are pouring larger budgets into influencer marketing campaigns on the daily, which means greater expectations and more liabilities.
  2. Tools for influencer marketing ‘at scale’ doesn’t just mean ‘at high volumes’, it also means at high prices. Brands paying tens of thousands of dollars for brand advocacy need to have tools to both protect the process and ensure that they’re getting what they pay for. Otherwise, we’re headed toward another convoluted and obfuscated supply chain… the same kind of pitfalls that plague older digital advertising channels.
  3. It’s essential to vet creators for both brand safety and past campaign results. When it comes to the case of Luka Sabbat, Snap’s PR firm might have reached out to brands that had worked with him in the past (especially when we’re talking about 5-figure deals). If a relationship is there, ask — get an idea of how creators are to work with and whether expectations were met.
  4. Brands: It’s essential that your agencies understand the value and delicacy of your creator relationships. Unlike the misleading headlines popping up about this topic, the fault for these very public failures campaign’s failures lies in the lap of Snapchat’s agency, and not Snap themselves. In fact, reportedly, PR Consulting even filed legal paperwork without Snap’s blessings. In the same way that brands must do their due diligence when vetting their creators, they must also do their due diligence in vetting their vetters.

Snap Spectacles Influencer … by on Scribd

Unlike the misleading headlines popping up about this topic, the fault for these very public failures campaign’s failures lies in the lap of Snapchat’s agency, and not Snap themselves. In fact, reportedly, PR Consulting even filed legal paperwork without Snap’s blessings.

All that said, this situation could have been avoided if the PR firm took some basic contractual precautions. According to The Fashion Law, “the case could solidify the need for influencer marketing contracts to come with prorated payment terms where stars are paid fractions of the total purse after each post rather than getting any upfront.”

Vocalist, woolgatherer, and optimization enthusiast. Semantic Web wonk. Marketing Manager at CreatorIQ.