LOS ANGELES (CN) – R&B artist Frank Ocean owes Chipotle Mexican Grill $212,500 after reneging on a deal to record a song for a marketing campaign, Chipotle claims in court.
Chipotle claims Ocean walked away from the project after learning it was an ad for Chipotle – not an awareness campaign for responsible farming.
Chipotle sued Ocean (Christopher Breaux) in Superior Court. It seeks damages for contract and unjust enrichment, and the return of its $212,500 initial payment to Ocean for the song he never delivered.
Chipotle developed an ad campaign called “The Scarecrow” in 2013. It included an animated online film, a video game for mobile devices, and a master recording track for the song, “Pure Imagination.” The song was to be used in the film and the game, as well for purchase or streaming online, the lawsuit states.
Chipotle, through its Creative Artists Agency representatives, asked that Ocean record the song for the campaign. Ocean was told that the song was to raise awareness of the dangers of industrial farming and to promote local, sustainably sourced food, the lawsuit states.
Chipotle claims it told Ocean that the campaign was funded by Chipotle and that the song would be used “in connection with the promotion for Chipotle.”
Before signing the agreement – which stated that the song would be used as part of a Chipotle advertisement – Ocean was able to view the film. At the time, the film did not contain the Chipotle logo at the end, as it was only 80 percent complete, a fact of which Ocean was informed, the complaint states.
Ocean agreed to deliver the song no later than Aug. 7, 2013 in exchange for an initial payment of $212,500 and another $212,500 upon completion, Chipotle says in the lawsuit.
On the day Ocean was supposed to deliver the song, he viewed the accompanying film and objected to the Chipotle logo appearing at the end. He then refused to record the song and left the studio, Chipotle claims.
A week later, Ocean’s legal team sent Chipotle’s counsel an email that stated, in part: “When Frank was asked to participate in this project, Chipotle’s representatives told him that the thrust of the campaign was to promote responsible farming. There was no Chipotle reference or logo in the initial presentation, and Chipotle told Frank that was an intentional element of the campaign. Frank was also promised that he’d have the right to approve the master and all advertising, promotional and publicity materials,” the lawsuit states.
Chipotle claims that nowhere in the agreement does it state that Ocean has any rights in connection with the content of the film or that his duty to deliver the song was contingent upon his approval of the advertisement.
Because Ocean refused to comply with the agreement, Chipotle hired Fiona Apple to record the song for the campaign, Chipotle says.
Chipotle want its $212,500 back.
It is represented by Robert B. Hinckley, Jr. with Messner Reeves LLP.
In what appears to be related to Chipotle’s lawsuit, Ocean posted a picture on his Tumblr page of a cashier’s check written out for $212,500, accompanied by the memo, “FUCK OFF.” The recipient of the check is blacked out.
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