Chiara Ferragni Acknowledges Italian Antitrust Violation, Commits 1 Million Euros to Children’s Hospital
Italian fashion influencer Chiara Ferragni has acknowledged a “communications error” and pledged to donate 1 million euros ($1.1 million) to the Regina Margherita, a Turin-based pediatric hospital, following an antitrust fine for misleading charity claims related to the sales of a Christmas cake.
The controversy arose when Italy’s competition watchdog, AGCM, imposed a fine of 1.075 million euros on Ferragni last Friday. The regulatory body found that consumers had been deceived into believing that the purchase of a Ferragni-branded pandoro, an alternative to the more famous panettone, would contribute to a children’s hospital charity.
Ferragni, a globally recognized fashion influencer with nearly 30 million followers on Instagram, faced severe backlash over the weekend, with criticism even coming from Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
In an Instagram video, the 36-year-old expressed regret, stating, “I realize I have made a communications error… my error, in good faith, was to link, via communications, a commercial activity with a charity one.” She sounded contrite and almost tearful as she announced her decision to donate 1 million euros to the Regina Margherita hospital.
While Ferragni plans to appeal the AGCM fine, which she deems “disproportionate and unjust,” she affirmed that if granted a reduction, she would match the discount with an additional donation to the hospital.
The AGCM also fined cake maker Balocco 420,000 euros. According to the regulator, Balocco had made a one-time payment of 50,000 euros to the hospital months before launching the Ferragni pandoro. Therefore, the sales of the product had no direct impact on charity donations.
The investigation revealed that Ferragni personally made no direct payments to the hospital. However, her companies received 1 million euros from Balocco for the branding initiative and related promotional activities.
The case has not only prompted a reevaluation of influencer marketing practices but has also ignited a conversation about the responsibility of public figures in aligning their commercial ventures with charitable causes. As Ferragni navigates the aftermath of the controversy, the fashion influencer industry may witness increased scrutiny regarding transparency in fundraising campaigns associated with consumer products.