Italian Influencer Says She’s Sorry for ‘Error’ in Profiting From Charity Sale

Chiara Ferragni apologized to her 30 million followers after an investigation revealed the sales of a "designer" pandoro didn't go to a children's hospital.

Misc. Goss Influencers
Italian Influencer Says She’s Sorry for ‘Error’ in Profiting From Charity Sale

If you happened to follow fashion bloggers in the early 2010s (aka some of the world’s first influencers aka scammers), you probably recognize the name, Chiara Ferragni—or, as she was known at the time: The Blonde Salad. In the last decade, the Italian influencer has garnered as much success as one of her kind can (30 million followers on Instagramcountless brand collaborations, a shoe line, and even her own Barbie).

This week, however, The Blonde Salad got, well, chopped by the AGCM, an Italian antitrust watchdog in what’s being called (by me, alone): the Great Pandoro Ponzi Scheme of 2023. In short: the AGCM announced findings that the proceeds from a cake she was promoting didn’t go to the children’s hospital she promised they would…

“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,” Ferragni said in an Instagram video on Monday. In penance, she went on to promise to donate one million euros to Regina Margherita, the Turin-based pediatric hospital that was planning to use the funds to buy medical equipment to treat child cancer patients.

At this point, you’re likely wondering, “How the fuck did this ‘communications error’ happen?” Well, Ferragni began promoting a special edition cake—a “designer” pandoro for nine euros (almost $10) in a pretty pink box—in 2022 during the lead-up to Christmas. What’s a pandoro? Basically, an alternative to a panettone, an Italian sweet bread and fruitcake. As part of a collaboration with Balocco, the Italian producer of the festive treat, Ferragni announced that the proceeds would go to Regina Margherita.

As it turns out, Balocoo made a single donation of 50,000 euros to the hospital months before Ferragni ever announced the pandoro. Even worse? Ferragni, the AGCM found, didn’t personally donate to the hospital and her companies received one million euros from Balocco. Yikes.

In punishment, Ferragni has been fined 1.075 million euros while Balocco was fined 420,000 euros. In her apology video, Ferragni told her followers that she planned to appeal the fine, calling it “disproportionate and unjust.” We have to laugh at the delusion!

The situation has garnered so much press that even Giorgia Meloni, the Prime Minister of Italy, weighed in: “The real models to follow are not the influencers who make a lot of money by wearing clothes and showing bags…or even promoting expensive cakes that make people believe they are charitable.

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