Italy’s Meloni takes aim at influencer Ferragni over misleading claims

By Angelo Amante

ROME (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Sunday criticised those who make money from misleading charity claims, in a clear reference to a recent antitrust sanction against the country’s top influencer Chiara Ferragni.

On Friday, Italy’s antitrust authority imposed a 1.075 million euro ($1.17 million) fine on companies controlled by Ferragni as a result of a probe into misleading advertising on Christmas cakes last year.

Ferragni, a businesswoman and fashion influencer with nearly 30 million followers on Instagram, said the fine was unjust and she would appeal it.

“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,” Meloni said, without explicitly mentioning Ferragni.

The antitrust authority also fined cake maker Balocco 420,000 euros and said consumers were duped into thinking that by buying a cake they were contributing to a bone cancer charity at a hospital in Turin and that Ferragni was herself making donations.

The regulator said Balocco had made a 50,000 euro one-off payment to the hospital months before launching the Ferragni cake, so sales of the product had no effect on charity donations. Balocco said it disagreed with regulator’s decision and reserved the right to take action to protect its rights.

The regulator said Ferragni-related companies gave no money to the hospital, despite receiving more than 1 million euros for the branding initiative and related promotional activities.

“We have to explain to young people that creating (Made in Italy) products is much more extraordinary than just showing them off,” Meloni said in a speech on the final day of the festival of her right-wing Brothers of Italy party.

($1 = 0.9179 euros)

(Reporting by Angelo Amante; editing by Christina Fincher)