Travis Scott Sued Over Promotional Product That Allegedly Ripped Off Video Game Company's Joystick Design
Even if you have never heard a note of his music, you probably know who Travis Scott is. The guy is a marketing master. Yes, he’s a hip-hop artist first, but he has so much reach and he’s done so many things that he is practically a brand himself. He just went huge with his branded merchandise partnership with McDonald’s. He’s been a major player in the album/merch bundle practice. He worked with LeBron to design T-shirts for high school seniors, and gave everyone a T-shirt when his album hit No. 1 on the charts.
But, no one is perfect. And now Scott is facing some trouble for a creative promotional tie-in he did with the video game Fortnite.
After Scott held a “virtual concert” for fans in Fortnite, his creative team was looking for a way to promote it with merchandise. Naturally, being that it was on a video game, the idea of branded thumbsticks—little pads for customizing a controller's joysticks—made sense. But gaming equipment company KontrolFreek is now saying that Scott and his label Cactus Jack took photos of their product, added some Cactus Jack logos and designs on top, and passed the branded product off as their own.
This isn’t just some small mom-and-pop business that the Scott team is allegedly messing with. According to NME, KontrolFreek’s community of fans and customers totals more than 4 million, so KontrolFreek was naturally worried that someone would see this and assume it was a licensed co-branding effort—especially since they weren’t as good as the product people assumed they were getting.
Page Six reported that one recipient complained online about the product’s “poor quality,” and said that it was “not like ‘normal KontrolFreek [joysticks.]’” According to Page Six, KontrolFreek’s legal team says that in addition to the images, Cactus Jack used “identical bullet points” as KontrolFreek to describe the product’s features.
KontrolFreek’s legal team is seeking Scott’s profits from the product as well as financial damages, and also wants Scott and Cactus Jack to destroy all of the remaining products.
This is a rare, but potentially serious, misstep by the Travis Scott team. The guy was pretty much batting 1.000 before this in the promotional game, but ripping off someone else’s work is just asking for trouble. We see it so much in the apparel game. It’s probably best to just avoid anything related to video games, too, after everything that happened with Soulja Boy.