The Italian Kardashians or the Christmas cake-induced avalanche

While your eyes are hooked to the TV screen, mobile device, or tablet, and you are enjoying watching content generated by “average Joe turned celebrity from America (list is too long),” individuals you respect are robbing you of your money, dreams, and desires.

You are probably wondering how.

This article is for those of you who are living other people’s dreams by paying their extravagant lifestyles through fraud, lies, and scam.

Let me question you directly: is it preferable to remain anonymous nowadays or well-known, such as influencers?

We were all compelled to live in isolation at some point throughout the pandemic. And, once again, now that we have made everything possible for ourselves and have opened our lives to everyone, both professionally and emotionally, I feel that privacy will become the new luxury.

Are you familiar with Chiara Ferragni? For the past few days, an Italian influencer has dominated the news, and not in a good manner.

But let us proceed in chronological sequence.

Chiara Ferragni: Who exactly is she?

Chiara Ferragni is an Italian blogger, entrepreneur, fashion designer, and model whose website The Blonde Salad has worked with fashion and cosmetics companies.

She methodically crafted her immaculate character as a millennial favourite and fashion and cosmetics symbol over the course of fifteen years. She even had a global modelling contract with the cosmetics company Lancome.

Her personal fortune is estimated to be 19 million euros, she owns three businesses, and she has tens of millions of social media followers.

Chiara Ferragni is a well-known social media specialist in the globe today. Many firms today use it for more than just access to the outside world.

While still living in Milan, she established The Blonde Salad, a personal lifestyle blog that immediately became a “hit place” for all things fashion-related. More than 11 million followers worldwide follow the travels and exploits of the most well-known European influencer with a global following who is enthusiastic about fashion, nine years after she changed her life into a blog with style advice.

Turning a passion into a job

This Cremona law student turned her hobby into a job. As one of Instagram’s most popular users, she epitomises a generation of women who feel that nothing is impossible and use social media to communicate who they are and what they want.

She also launched the Chiara Ferragni Collection e-shop, an online store where she sells her own clothing. Her brand is now a significant component of over 300 retail outlets from Paris to New York.

She celebrated the opening of the first three flagship stores in Milan, Shanghai, and Chengdu in September 2017.

Today, she has over 30 million Instagram followers and has acquired millions of dollars by avoiding privacy at all costs.

She is a board member of the leather goods company Tod’s SpA, in addition to owning her own clothes brand and digital marketing firm.

According to her PR firm, “Chiara Ferragni is one of the most influential figures in the Italian fashion, media, and business world and uses her influence every day to make the world a better place.”

Hubris retaliated

All of that, however, may come crashing down with a single blunder, which Chiara Ferragni is hoping to mitigate with a $1 million donation to protect her dignity.

Ferragni was fined 1 million euros ($1.1 million) last month for falsely claiming on social media that the proceeds from a Pandora Christmas cake bearing her name would benefit a Turin hospital for sick children.

Because the present was paid for in advance prior to the promotion, the sale had no influence on the cost of the gift. Balocco, the company that organised the Christmas cake marketing, was also fined for deceptive business practices.

Ferragni, on the other hand, was allegedly paid a million euros for the effort.

Chiara Ferragni, an Italian, collaborated with the company Balocco to develop a Christmas cake featuring her surname. Even though the cake was just about 3.5 euros, it was sold for nine euros.

The proceeds from the sale were donated to the Regina Margherita Paediatric Hospital in Turin in order to help children with bone cancer.

The cake was scheduled to be auctioned off in November 2022, but according to worldwide media, Chiara won a million euros in a charity initiative, and the cake’s manufacturer donated 50,000 euros to the hospital prior to the auction.

“Chara Ferragni’s management companies, TBS Crew and Fenice, earned over a million euros from that company without having to pay anything to the hospital.” 

Fenice was fined 400,000 euros, while TBS Crew was fined 675,000 euros.

According to the Italian Competition Authority, Balocco, which has its headquarters in north-west Italy near Turin, was fined 420,000 euros.

The government said that the three companies were guilty “of applying an unfair commercial practice by advertising Pandora Pink Christmas, designed by Chiara Ferragni, suggesting to consumers that their purchase would contribute to the donation” .

The prosecution initiates the procedure

At the request of the National Agency for the Protection of Market Competition, the Italian State Attorney’s Office filed a complaint against her for preklan fraud and consumer deception.

This was owing to the combined introduction of the popular Christmas delicacy Pandoro into the market by the Italian maker Balocco and Chiara Ferragni, who misled shoppers into believing that a portion of the sales earnings would be donated to charitable causes.

Especially to the research team at the Regina Margherita Special Hospital in Turin, which treats malignant bone diseases.

The market price for comparable products was only 3.7 euros, but the Christmas cake was marketed for a far higher price per slice, 9 euros.

During the investigation, the prosecutor’s office was able to show that the hospital got a one-time donation of 50,000 euros from the firm prior to the product launch, and that no money from the cake’s sales was transferred to the hospital’s account.

As a result, she misled consumers with her marketing plan, in which Chiara Ferragni also participated, for which the influencer and the company were penalised. Balocco was fined 420,000 euros, and Chiara Ferragni and the companies she works with must refund any illegally generated earnings (a total of 1.075 million euros) to the public budget.

Numerous consumer organisations filed lawsuits against her, Coca-Cola cancelled a planned advertising campaign, and Safilo, the world’s second-largest eyewear brand, abandoned her.

Ferragni responded to the start of the fraud investigation by saying she fully believed the judicial system and would help them with their investigations. “I am calm because I have always acted in good faith,” she said.

Ferragni hasn’t posted anything on her Instagram account since making a defensive apology and criticising the sentence on December 18.

This is the longest she has been silent online since she began.

Reaction of Italy’s Prime Minister

Italy’s Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, also covered everything.

“Influencers who flaunt their expensive cakes, skimpy outfits, flaunt their handbags, or even promise people that they will do good things for a small fee are not true role models.” 

The Prime Minister, according to La Repubblica, added, “Those who create, design, and manufacture that Italian excellence are the true role models.”

Ferragni didn’t respond to the insults.

Although Ferragni’s demise can be seen as a single setback for the estimated $250 billion influencer economy, it may also serve as a broader warning of shifting tendencies.

Furthermore, Italy is regarded for being a forerunner in predicting changing zeitgeists in fashion and technology. Apple Inc. and Inc. 2021 received record penalties from the Italian regulator AGCM, which also fined Ferrani, for potential competition violations.

Although the judgement was later overturned by a higher court, it marked the beginning of a movement in public and regulatory opinion challenging digital businesses’ dominance.

An attempt to provide clarification

Ferragni’s carefully cultivated reputation, however, has been tainted by the Pandora controversy and her response that the punishment was harsh considering that she was merely wanting to help others.

When the mask fell off, she assembled a team of spin doctors from scandal-plagued Italian blue chips and a famous Milanese law firm to assist her in dealing with a classic corporate image issue.

According to media for one of Italy’s largest luxury companies, the tendency is also shifting in other areas.

Traditional media is restoring fashion companies’ interest. This means that less money will go to influencers and developing media brands.

Artificial intelligence is also a future concern. LVMH’s Louis Vuitton and Hennes & Mauritz AB are among the companies that have already used virtual and AI influencers such as Noonoouri, Ayayi, and Kuki.

Perhaps Ferragni is starting to see the value in having a little more privacy for herself.

This post was written by Mario Bekes