Last month, the Italian Antitrust Authority delivered a substantial blow to influencer Chiara Ferragni and her confectionery company Balocco, penalizing them with a €1 million fine for their Christmas 2022 promotional campaign. The initiative centered around the ”Pink Christmas” pandoro, ostensibly aimed at supporting the Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin. However, the promotion faced severe scrutiny, leading to an investigation and subsequent sanctions.
Chiara Ferragni's advertisement came under fire for misleading practices, as it falsely implied that purchasing the ”Pink Christmas” pandoro would contribute to research on osteosarcoma and Ewing's sarcoma. The promotional campaign suggested that the funds would be used to buy a new machine for the hospital, but it was revealed that the donation had already been made by Balocco in May 2022. Despite earning over €1 million from the initiative, Ferragni's companies failed to contribute to the intended cause, leading to the hefty fine imposed by the Antitrust Authority.
The sanctions were imposed due to several reasons, including disseminating false information about the donation, implying Ferragni's direct involvement in the contribution, and charging an inflated price for the ”Pink Christmas” pandoro. The companies Fenice and TBS Crew (two brands owned by the influencer), along with Balocco, were found guilty of these deceptive practices. Currently, both Chiara Ferragni and Alessandra Balocco are under investigation for aggravated fraud.
Following the ”Pink Christmas” controversy, a similar case involving Easter eggs also emerged. CerealiItalia, owner of Dolci Preziosi, allegedly collected €36 thousand in donations for the association “i Bambini delle Fate”. However, Chiara Ferragni, once again, faced accusations of amassing over a million euros through a similar campaign. The case sparked reactions from celebrities and politicians, with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni criticizing influencers who mislead consumers into believing they are contributing to charity.
In the wake of the scandal, Chiara Ferragni has faced repercussions from prominent brands. Safilo terminated its collaboration contract, citing a violation of ethical principles. Coca Cola, initially confirming a collaboration, later decided not to proceed with the contract.
Ferragni is currently under investigation for aggravated fraud in multiple national prosecutors' offices, including in Milan, Cuneo, Prato and Trento. The investigations, still in the exploratory stage, may merge into a single proceeding if a consistent crime hypothesis is identified.