Modernists Sues Reebok's Rockport For Breach of Contract


This one's a toss up. It's either it's a child crying over spilled milk or it's a kid standing up to a towel-snapping bully. Boston-based Modernista is suing Reebok's Rockport claiming the footwear company owes the agency $500,000 for work it did during 2007 contract negotiations and, inclusively, a $225,000 early termination fee Modernista imposed when Rockport suddenly dumped Modernista and hired Hill Holiday.

Modernista claims it continued to work in good faith while 2007 contracts talks were underway during which the agency claims Rockport had nothing but kind words for the work. The sudden firing on February 28 took the agency by surprise. Modernista claims Rockport strung the agency along as it searched for a new agency and had no intention of maintaining its relationship with Modernista.

Modernista lawyer Evans Huber of Frieze Cramer LLP told (paid sub. req.) the Boston Business Journal, "Of course money is always a motivation in commercial litigation, but as we allege in this lawsuit, this wasn't simply a case of, 'We contend that they owe us money, and they deny it.' The parties had an ongoing relationship and there was a real disconnect between the work that Modernista was doing for Rockport and the message they were getting from Rockport, which was 'we love you,' followed by the abrupt termination of the relationship by Rockport. Modernista has reason to believe that the disconnect reflects the fact that Modernista was intentionally misled by Rockport."

Discuss amongst yourselves.

by Steve Hall    Jul-13-07   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies, Policy   

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The 1/2 mill is worth going after. That's a few extra 30" displays and PS2s for the art department.

Posted by: makethelogobigger on July 13, 2007 1:36 PM

I hope Modernista gets what they're owed without spending too much time/money/effort. It's a tough spot, not only do they have to weigh the cost/benefit in terms of the cash, but also as it affects their reputation. If it gets ugly it could make winning new business a lot more difficult.

Please post updates on this if you get more information. I'd like to know how this gets resolved.

This is too close to home. One of my clients is into the agency for about $140,000. That's big money for our small shop. Still, we worked our asses off on behalf of 2 vendors who bill client direct. They were collectively owed about $80,000. Seeing them get paid was a relief, but until I see a big fat check my anxiety levels will remain high. We're working on it and I trust we'll get what's owed us without much more drama.

Posted by: pat smith on July 13, 2007 2:32 PM

Yeah at a NY Midtown, Holding Company-owned goliath maybe not at private Chinatown-based Boston Modernista!

Posted by: Carlos on July 13, 2007 2:35 PM