Turin, Italy – December 19, 2023
Famous Italian influencer Chiara Ferragni, boasting almost 30 million followers on Instagram, has issued a public apology after being fined 1.075 million euros (approximately $1.2 million) by Italy’s competition watchdog AGCM for misleading consumers regarding a Christmas cake. The pink “Pandoro Pink Christmas,” marketed as a designer creation by Ferragni, was falsely claimed to contribute to funding a children’s hospital in Turin.
The AGCM investigation revealed that the cake’s producer, Balocco, had made a charitable donation to the Regina Margherita Hospital months before launching the product. The competition watchdog asserted that buyers of the Ferragni-branded pandoro were misled into believing their purchases would support medical equipment for the treatment of children with Osteosarcoma and Ewing’s Sarcoma.
In response to the controversy, Chiara Ferragni, 36, expressed regret and acknowledged a “mistake in good faith” for connecting a commercial venture with a charitable cause. In a statement to her followers, she vowed to donate 1 million euros(approximately $1.1 million) to the Regina Margherita hospital. Despite appearing on the verge of tears, Ferragni announced her intention to appeal the AGCM’s ruling, denouncing the fine as “disproportionate and unjust.”
The “Pandoro Pink Christmas,” sold at over 9 euros (approximately $10), more than double the price of the unbranded version by Balocco, faced further scrutiny as Prime Minister GiorgiaMeloni criticized influencers for promoting seemingly charitable products. Although not explicitly naming Ferragni, the Prime Minister highlighted the issue of expensive cakes misleading consumers about charitable contributions.
Consumer group Codacons has announced plans to launch legal action, seeking compensation for individuals who purchased the cake under the false impression of supporting the Turin Children’s Hospital. They are filing complaints with 104 Italian prosecutors, alleging aggravated fraud.
The AGCM watchdog imposed a 420,000 euros (approximately $458,000) fine on Balocco, emphasizing that the company had already donated 50,000 euros to the hospital before the cake’s sale. Two companies managing Chiara Ferragni’s trademarks and rights were collectively fined over 1 million euros (approximately $1.1 million).
In an Instagram video on Monday, Ferragni admitted to a “communications error” and pledged a substantial donation to the Regina Margherita hospital. Despite her admission, she remains steadfast in her decision to appeal the AGCM fine, expressing a willingness to augment her donation if the fine is reduced.
The AGCM’s penalties, combined with negative publicity and political scrutiny, have cast a shadow over Chiara Ferragni, prompting a reevaluation of influencer endorsements and their implications on charitable initiatives.