Mod Selection, a pricey Champagne line launched in collaboration with Compton-raised drinks entrepreneur Brent Hocking and Grammy-winning rapper Drake, is suing two giant liquor retailers in federal court for allegedly attempting to ruin the bubbly brand in a plot to benefit competitors, according to court papers obtained Wednesday.
The suit claiming false advertising, trademark infringements, civil conspiracy and other counts contends unfair practices by liquor superstore chain Total Wine & More and online seller Blicker Pierce Wagner Wine Merchants for collaborating with a former distributor in an alleged “predetermined plan to kill the Mod Selection Champagnes brand by dumping the product at brand-damaging discounted prices in the U.S. and abroad.”
Plaintiff attorneys and representatives for the retailers and ex-distributor did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
According to the lawsuit, filed late Tuesday in Los Angeles federal court, Mod Selection was launched as an “ultra-premium, luxury” Champagne line in January 2019 by Drake and Hocking — the same pair who previously helped introduce Virginia Black whiskey. The first two offerings were Mod Selection Reserve and Mod Selection Rose, priced at $300 and $400, respectively.
Mod Selection alleges that over the recent holidays, ex-distributor Southern Glazer — not named as a defendant in the suit — attempted to “kill” the West Hollywood-based line in order to benefit Mod Selection’s competitors — including LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Armand de Brignac.
The suit contends that, by selling its Champagnes through budget outlets at heavily discounted prices as low as $49 per bottle, the retailers intentionally “severely damaged the cachet and selling power” of the French import.
Miami-based Southern Glazer is blamed for breaching its agreement with the plaintiff by failing to make “required upfront investments,” failing to use “reasonable efforts” to market and sell the line, “and committing multiple other breaches throughout the contractual term,” the suit alleges.
The liquor distributor “carried out its plan primarily through two handpicked, massive retailers, defendants Total Wine and BPW, demonstrating its intent to kill the brand,” the lawsuit contends.
Mod Selection alleges that online retailer BPW “assisted Southern Glazer’s scheme by purchasing an astounding quantity of Mod Selection champagnes on one day, Dec. 2, 2020 (the first and only time the company purchased Mod Selection Champagnes) and then sold it through their various websites and auction houses at bargain-basement prices (as little as $50) at the commencement of the 2020-2021 holiday season — just in time to inflict maximum damage to the brand,” the suit states.
The plaintiff contends that the success of its brand “depended on not only a premium quality product, but also premium pricing and sale through premium, high-end outlets,” including Wally’s in Beverly Hills and the French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley.
Drake was pictured displaying a bottle of Mod Selection bubbly while accepting the trophy for male artist at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards.
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