Italian influencer Ferragni apologises over misleading charity claims, Lifestyle News

ROME — Italian fashion influencer Chiara Ferragni on Monday (Dec 18) admitted to a “communications error” and said she would give one million euros (S$1.45 million) to a children’s hospital after receiving an antitrust fine for misleading charity claims linked to sales of a Christmas cake.

The case has attracted significant negative publicity for Ferragni, one of the world’s most famous fashion influencers with nearly 30 million followers on Instagram, with criticism coming at the weekend even from Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Italy’s competition watchdog AGCM announced the fine of 1.075 million euros on Friday, after finding that consumers had been duped into thinking that by buying a Ferragni-branded pandoro they were contributing to charity for a children’s hospital.

Pandoro is an alternative to the more famous panettone.

“I realise I have made a communications error … my error, in good faith, was to link, via communications, a commercial activity with a charity one,” Ferragni said in an Instagram video.

Sounding contrite and almost tearful, the 36-year-old said she would donate one million euros to the Regina Margherita, the Turin-based paediatric hospital at the centre of the controversy.

Ferragni said she would still appeal the AGCM fine, calling it “disproportionate and unjust”, and said that if she were to get a reduction on her fine, she would top up her donation with a sum equivalent to that discount.

The AGCM also fined cake maker Balocco 420,000 euros.

According to the regulator, Balocco made a 50,000 euro one-off payment to the hospital months before launching the Ferragni pandoro, so sales of the product had no effect on charity donations.

It added that Ferragni made no personal payments to the hospital, while her companies received one million euros from Balocco for the branding initiative and related promotional activities.

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