PS12506 - Italian Competition Authority - Sanction of over €1 million to companies linked to Chiara Ferragni and €420,000 to Balocco for unfair commercial practice


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According to the AGCM, the aforementioned companies led consumers to believe that by purchasing the “Ferragni-branded” Balocco pandoro, they would contribute to a donation to the Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin. The donation, amounting to €50,000, had instead already been made by Balocco alone months earlier. The companies associated with Chiara Ferragni received over €1 million from the initiative.

The AGCM has fined the companies Fenice S.r.l. and TBS Crew S.r.l., which manage trademarks and rights related to the personality and personal identity of Mrs. Chiara Ferragni, for €400,000 and €675,000, respectively, and Balocco S.p.A. Industria Dolciaria for €420,000. The Authority accuses the three companies of engaging in an unfair business practice for advertising “Pandoro Pink Christmas”, “branded” Chiara Ferragni, and suggesting to consumers that, by buying it, they would contribute to a donation to the Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin to purchase a new machine for the therapeutic treatment of children with Osteosarcoma and Ewing's Sarcoma. Fenice and TBS Crew received over €1 million for licensing Mrs. Ferragni's brands and creating advertising content without contributing to the Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin.

According to the AGCM, the unfair practice involved several conducts:

 1. misleading consumers in the press release presenting the initiative by suggesting that purchasing the "Pandoro Pink Christmas" for over €9, instead of the non-branded Balocco pandoro at around €3.70, would contribute to a donation. In reality, Balocco had already made a fixed donation in May 2022, months before the initiative's launch in November 2022;

 2. disseminating information, through labels on each Ferragni-branded Balocco pandoro, supporting the untrue claim that buying the product would contribute to the advertised donation;

 3. posting stories on Mrs. Ferragni's social media channels, suggesting that buying the “Pandoro Pink Christmas” could contribute to the donation, and implying that Mrs. Ferragni was directly involved in the donation, which was not true despite her companies receiving over €1 million.

The Authority also believes that the price of the “Ferragni branded” pandoro, sold at about two and a half times the price of the classic Balocco pandoro, contributed to misleading consumers, reinforcing their perception that they were contributing to the donation by purchasing the “Pandoro Pink Christmas”.

According to the AGCM, this practice significantly limited consumers' freedom of choice by leveraging their sensitivity to charitable initiatives, especially those aiding children with serious illnesses. This violated the duty of professional diligence under Article 20 of the Consumer Code, constituting an unfair commercial practice characterized by deceptive elements under Articles 21 and 22 of the Consumer Code.

Rome, 15 December 2023