Italian fashion influencer apologizes for poor charity communication and is fined 1 million euros

An Italian fashion blogger-turned-businesswoman has apologized after being fined €1 million by the Italian antitrust watchdog for improperly conveying a charitable contribution linked to sales of traditional Christmas cake sold with her logo.

In an Instagram post, Chiara Ferragni said on Monday that she would donate 1 million euros to the Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin to give “realism” to her apology, but said she would appeal the fine itself.

Ferragni said it had not given sufficient oversight to communications surrounding sales of the Balocco pandoro brand with its logo, and that it would no longer link charity with commercial activities.

Ferragni started as a fashion blogger and has gone on to sell clothes, accessories and makeup under her own brand as well as doing promotional work as an influencer. She is also a member of the board of directors of the luxury fashion group Tod’s.

The Italian antitrust agency on Friday also fined Palocco €420,000 because it gave consumers the impression that part of the profits from sales of Ferragni-branded Panduro would benefit the hospital. In fact, the agency said, Balocco donated 50,000 euros before the campaign, which was launched in November 2022, and no additional funds were sent after that.

The agency indicated that Ferragni’s “Pandoro Pink Christmas” cakes were sold for more than 9 euros per piece, compared to the usual price of 3.70 euros.

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In her video, Ferragni said she was challenging the fine imposed by the agency, calling it “disproportionate.” If the fine is reduced, Ferragni said she will donate whatever the difference is to the same charity.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in a speech over the weekend criticized Ferragni without naming her, citing influencers who promote “expensive panettone that makes them think they are for charity, when the price is only paid for the millionaire’s fees.”

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