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Frank Ocean Sued by Chipotle Over Ad Deal

Mexican food chain says Ocean backed out after receiving payment

Frank Ocean
Tyler Kaufman/FilmMagic
March 8, 2014 10:50 AM ET

Chipotle filed a lawsuit against Frank Ocean on Friday, claiming that the singer backed out of a deal to record a song for an advertising campaign after taking a fee for the work.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Mexican fast-food chain claims in the suit that it struck a deal with Ocean, through talent agency CAA, to record a song called "Pure Imagination" (from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) for a Chipotle advertising campaign promoting local and sustainably-sourced food. Ocean was paid $212,500 after signing onto the campaign in July 2013 with another fee of the same amount to be paid after delivering the song.

See Where Frank Ocean's 'Channel Orange' Ranks Among the Best Albums of 2012

Before agreeing to join the campaign, Ocean was reportedly shown an incomplete version of the animated film that would accompany his recording. That version did not include Chipotle's logo, though the lawsuit says that Ocean was informed that the project was an advertisement for Chipotle, who was funding it.

The following month, on the day Ocean was supposed to deliver the track, Ocean told Chipotle that he would not participate in the campaign. His legal team sent a letter to Chipotle a week later, explaining his withdrawal: "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," the letter said. "Frank was also promised that he'd have the right to approve the master and all advertising."

The restaurant chain says that those terms were not part of the deal and is suing Ocean to retrieve the $212,500 it already paid him, along with undetermined damages. As Pitchfork reports, Chipotle ended up enlisting Fiona Apple to record "Pure Imagination," for the advertisement, which was released in September. Karen O and Willie Nelson have both contributed recordings for previous Chipotle ads. 

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