Top influencer Ferragni fined $1.2 mln for misleading Christmas cake advert

Corrects size of Balocco's fine to 420,000 euros from 420 million euros in paragraph 2

ROME, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Companies controlled by top Italian fashion influencer Chiara Ferragni must pay a fine of 1.075 million euros ($1.18 million) for misleading customers over charity donations linked to sales of a Christmas cake, Italy's antitrust authority (AGCM) said on Friday.

AGCM also fined Italian cake maker Balocco 420,000 euros.

The penalties stem from a probe the regulator announced in June, related to a Ferragni-branded Balocco pandoro - a Christmas alternative to panettone - sold in Italy late last year, at over 9 euros each, compared to under 4 euros for a regular Balocco pandoro.

AGCM said advertising and higher pricing misled consumers to think that by buying the cake, they were directly contributing to a charity for bone cancer research at a hospital in Turin, and also that Ferragni was herself making donations.

Balocco had made a 50,000 euro one-off payment to the hospital months before launching the Ferragni pandoro, so sales of the product had no effect on charity donations, the regulator said.

It added that the Ferragni-related companies it sanctioned gave no money to the Turin hospital, despite receiving more than 1 million euros for the branding initiative and for related promotional activities.

Ferragni, 36, is one of the world's most famous fashion influencers, with nearly 30 million followers on Instagram.

In a social media message, she said the partnership with Balocco was "a commercial deal" done in complete good faith, and in which the hospital donation made by the cake maker was a key point of the agreement.

Saying she was sorry that someone could have misunderstood her advertising, Ferragni said she would appeal the AGCM fine, calling it "unjust".

($1 = 0.9113 euros)

(Reporting by Alvise Armellini, editing by Sharon Singleton and Elaine Hardcastle)


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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