How to get out of a mess that Chiara Ferragni

How to get out of a mess that Chiara Ferragni got into

On Wednesday, influencer and entrepreneur Chiara Ferragni resumed publishing content on Instagram, the platform that has done the most to build her fame and career. He hadn't posted since December 18, when he shared a video apologizing for “making a communication error” in the now-famous advertising campaign for a line of Pandoros from candy company Balocco, in which he admitted that The impression that the proceeds would have gone to charity is not true.

A few days earlier, the antitrust authority, the competition and market supervisory authority, had imposed heavy fines on two companies owned by Ferragni for misleading advertising, thereby triggering a significant image crisis. Ferragni has faced a lot of criticism and attacks in recent weeks, being the subject of debates and editorials, and it appears that all of this may have significantly damaged her previously generally positive public image. And for an influencer like her, reputation is a fundamental element of her activities and her income.

In the first stories posted on Instagram following the apology video, Ferragni told his followers – who still number 29.5 million despite the recent scandal – that he missed her. She then thanked both the people who have been close to her in recent weeks and those who “expressed their opinions, even negative ones, in a calm and constructive tone, because in life there is always time to discuss, reflect and start anew “.

The stories attracted a lot of attention because Ferragni usually posts several pieces of content on Instagram every day, so his silence was noticeable. But also because they are the first step in a potentially long process of restoring his reputation, which will help Ferragni maintain his influence over his public and reassure the companies with which he does business. Ferragni must demonstrate that she continues to be a reliable employee and a credible reference if she does not want to lose contracts and revenue streams.

Given the enormous attention paid to the public and private lives of celebrities (which, before social networks, was mainly contributed by a large sector of journalism dedicated to the search for scandals and gossip), it was already before social for actors Networking quite easy, singers, models, intellectuals and other well-known personalities encountered at a certain point in their careers a more or less serious scandal that could change public perception in the short or long term.

Since the careers of celebrities also largely depend on how the public perceives them, there is a whole branch of public relations – the field that deals with the management and dissemination of information about individuals, companies or other types of organizations to the public, to influence their perception. is dedicated to “crisis management”, i.e. the measures that must be taken to minimize the consequences of a sudden and disruptive event. A crisis can be the revelation of an affair or drug problem, the dissemination of non-consensual intimate images or, increasingly, the violent reaction of a mass of people online to the expression of a controversial opinion.

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In the case of Chiara Ferragni, the crisis in question began when the Antitrust Office fined two of her companies, as well as the confectionery company Balocco, 1.4 million euros for running an advertising campaign for a Balocco Pandori line that Ferragni took part in in the year 2022: the “Pandoro Pink Christmas”, presented as a charity initiative for the Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin. According to the Antitrust Authority, the campaign was misleading because it led people to believe that the sale of each Pandoro contributed to a charitable donation to the hospital, when in reality Balocco had already predetermined the amount of the donation regardless of the sales.

The fine received wide media coverage and was even commented on by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni; This resulted in the influencer losing around 157,000 followers, still a small fraction of the total; and led to the multinational eyewear company Safilo breaking off its collaboration with Ferragni.

Before his Instagram break, Ferragni had released a much-discussed apology video, especially because the influencer decided to present himself with modest and modest-looking makeup and clothing that was very different from his usual style. However, according to Kelcey Kintner, vice president of the international crisis management firm Red Banyan, which has been dealing with similar cases for years, the initiatives Ferragni is taking follow exactly the pattern of behavior recommended for celebrities in these cases.

“The fact that she apologized immediately is good, and the apology felt sincere to me, although I think she definitely could have taken more responsibility for her mistake,” he says. “Calling it 'a miscommunication' doesn't exactly give the impression that you're taking responsibility for what went wrong.”

Kintner also believes that remaining silent after apologizing was a good move: “If you apologize and then immediately go back to posting as usual and promoting your brand, you can come across as tone-deaf.” [alle preoccupazioni del pubblico]. Anyone who finds themselves in the middle of a mess like this wants to move from bad advertising to positive posts as quickly as possible, but there is no way to flip a switch and make things better immediately. It takes time to rebuild the trust of the fans, it doesn't happen overnight. But fans know that celebrities are also people who make mistakes: the important thing is to admit the mistake, overcome it and change your behavior accordingly.

Ferragni, for example, announced that he would donate one million euros to the Regina Margherita Hospital and that in the future he would “completely separate any charitable work that I have always done and will continue to do from commercial activities.” According to Kintner, it is a sensible step: one of the key pieces of advice she would give as a crisis manager is to show that she is prepared to accompany the apology with concrete actions with a strong impact. “I would also advise you to volunteer at the hospital and learn more about the suffering of sick children,” she says.

“Whether it's a gaffe taken out of its original context and gone viral or a more serious ethical breach, the approach generally remains the same: you need to address the issue quickly by showing sincerity and ensuring that you “Know how to assume your responsibilities and take concrete action to repair the damage,” confirms Lauren Beeching, founder of Honest London, another crisis and online reputation management company.

In this sense, Beeching believes that Ferragni's decision not to post content on Instagram for a while served to recognize the seriousness of the situation and showed a cautious approach aimed at restoring his reputation in the long term. In his experience, stopping posting for a period of time after a crisis also serves to take time to develop a new strategy for engaging with audiences by providing a greater sense of transparency and authenticity Internet stops. Additionally, Ferragni's break from social media occurred around Christmas, a time when marketing activity is particularly intense.

According to Beeching, Ferragni must not only focus on regaining the public's trust, but also be careful to avoid long-term effects on his relationships with the other companies he works with as an influencer, model and designer, including Intimissimi, Bulgari, Nespresso and Louis Vuitton.

“Brands are becoming increasingly cautious about associating their name with that of an influencer or celebrity, and often look for people whose reputations are impeccable,” explains Beeching. “Ferragni’s challenge will be to demonstrate that he has learned from his mistakes through a genuine and ongoing commitment to charity. This type of effort can help restore a reputation consistent with that desired by brands: to ensure the success of the venture, constant monitoring of public opinion and media representation is necessary.”

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