Influencer apologises after misleading fans with sale of ‘charity’ Christmas cake

Entertainment

Italian fashion influencer Chiara Ferragni has apologised after misleading her followers over sales of a Christmas cake

The 36-year-old, who built her platform through her fashion and beauty Chiara Ferragni brand, said she will donate €1m (£860,000) to a children’s hospital, after fans were led to believe that by buying a Ferragni-branded pandoro (similar to a panettone) they were contributing to the charity.

In a video apology to her near 30 million Instagram followers, the influencer admitted there had been a “communications error” after being fined by Italy’s competition watchdog.

In reality, Balocco – the company who makes the cake – had made a one-off €50,000 (£43,000) payment to the Regina Margherita, a Turin-based paediatric hospital, months before launching the competition in collaboration with Ferragni.

“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.

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The influencer was hit with criticism over the incident, including from Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Without directly mentioning Ferragni, Ms Meloni said: “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.”

Businesses run by the mother-of-two were issued a €1.075m (£927,000) fine by the antitrust authority, AGCM.

Ferragni said she would appeal the 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 €1m donation she is voluntarily making is the same amount Ferragni made from the promotional competition deal with Balocco.

The cake company was handed a €420,000 (£360,000) fine.

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