Popular blogger sued by social media firm for breach of contract

Popular blogger sued by social media firm for breach of contract
Bong Qiu Qiu. Photo: Budget Barbie/Facebook
ChurpChurp accuses Ang Chiew Ting of denying it of fees from several commercial deals
Published: 9:50 PM, September 14, 2016
Updated: 11:40 PM, September 14, 2016

SINGAPORE — Popular blogger Ang Chiew Ting, known to her fans as Bong Qiu Qiu, has been sued by social media advertising network ChurpChurp for allegedly breaching her contract with the latter and denying it of fees from what it said were commercial deals with more than 30 brands including  Laneige, Yves Saint Laurent, and Etude House. 

But the 29-year-old star of online TV series Budget Barbie, who has 289,000 followers on Instagram, has hit back with a countersuit, denying she had entered into agreements with said brands, and pointing out she was no longer under contract with ChurpChurp.

Instead, it was ChurpChurp that breached their agreement, by failing to do its best to promote her websites and platforms, causing her to suffer losses from potential fees, she claimed.

She is also charging that ChurpChurp had defamed her by putting up an online post on Aug 11 claiming she was in breach of their agreement.

The two parties had entered into a contract — called the Alpha Churper Agreement — in March 22, 2013, where ChurpChurp would “exclusively manage, negotiate and enter into all commercial, advertising and promotional transactions offered by third parties” on Ms Ang’s behalf. 

In its statement of claims filed in the State Courts, ChurpChurp, which is seeking damages, accused Ms Ang of promoting various brands like Lenovo, Pizza Hut, Samsung, Kiehl’s and Tung Lok on her Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts between February last year and August this year, without having it negotiating the transactions on her behalf or approving of it. 

As such, the company claims it suffered “loss and damage”, from losing out on fees it would have received had it negotiated the deals on her behalf, and from future brand partnerships with the businesses that approached her for the said deals. 

In its Aug 11 statement, ChurpChurp, which is represented by TSMP Law Corporation, said in a statement on its website that despite numerous attempts to “amicably resolve” the matter, the blogger continued to “wilfully ignore” her contractual obligations.  

Refuting the claims, Ms Ang, who is represented by Rajah & Tann, denied having entered into such endorsements which amounted to “commercial, advertising or promotional deals” with third parties. 

She also said she was led to assume that ChurpChurp had given consent on such “free posts” — products sent “free of charge” to her directly with no obligation that she was required to post about the products, or products she had bought in her own personal capacity, for instance.

She also pointed out that her contract with the firm had expired on March 21, and she was “no longer bound by the obligations” under the agreement, adding she had notified ChurpChurp that she would not be renewing her contract in September last year.

While a clause under the agreement provided for the contract to be renewed automatically, unless terminated by ChurpChurp, Ms Ang said at the time of the signing, it was agreed that any renewal was subject to agreement by both parties.

This was witnessed by a Ms Yang Huiwen, now regional director of Netccentric and ChurpChurp, claimed Ms Ang. Netccentric owns ChurpChurp, well as Nuffnang.  

As for her counterclaims, Ms Ang said that while ChurpChurp was bound by the agreement to promote her website, it did not fulfil this obligation. 

For instance, when a marketing employee from YSQ International contacted Nom Nom Media — a media reseller for Nuffnang and ChurpChurp — asking if Ms Ang was free for a publicity campaign in December last year. 

Nom Nom allegedly told YSQ over email that Ms Ang was unavailable as she was taking care of her child, and suggested they consider other bloggers instead — without consulting her.   

When contacted, Ms Ang declined comment, as the case is now before the court. 

On her blog however, she said in a Sept 13 post she believed she had “fulfilled (her) obligations” in her contract with ChurpChurp, and helped the company earn a “good sum of money” as one of their anchor bloggers.

“I don’t find it tempting at all to cut my ex-agency out to earn more for myself. I have moral values. (I’ve never done) what I am not supposed to do during my three-year term with them,” she wrote. 

Contacted by TODAY, a ChurpChurp spokesperson referred TODAY to its online post: “Now that the matter is before a court of law, we respect the legal process and will leave the matter to be settled in court accordingly.”