Italy proposes stricter regulations on charity-linked products in wake of influencer controversy.

Italy is poised to serve as a model for regulating charitable affairs, particularly in countries like Pakistan, where the collection of donations for health and other services has become a common practice for business and political purposes.

According to Reuters, Italy’s cabinet is on the verge of approving a bill aimed at demanding greater transparency from companies that associate product sales with charity donations. This move comes after a prominent fashion influencer, Chiara Ferragni, faced backlash for misleading posts about a Christmas cake.

Ferragni, boasting nearly 30 million Instagram followers, was fined last month by Italy’s competition watchdog for misleading consumers into thinking that purchasing her branded pandoro cake would contribute to a children’s hospital. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, along with others, criticized Ferragni, who later apologized and pledged 1 million euros to a children’s hospital.

Eyewear maker Safilo terminated its contract with Ferragni, citing violations of good conduct clauses. Prosecutors in Milan are investigating her for alleged fraud related to other campaigns, a charge she denies, with her lawyers expressing confidence in proving her innocence.

The proposed bill, set to be approved, mandates that products linked to charity donations clearly state the purpose and recipient, as well as disclose the portion of the price allocated to charity. Violations could result in fines of up to 50,000 euros ($54,500), and repeat offenses may lead to a one-year suspension of activities.

Prime Minister Meloni emphasized the need for transparency in regulations governing commercial activities with charitable purposes. However, some experts, like Matteo De Angelis, a marketing professor at Luiss University in Rome, caution that while stringent rules may enhance the reliability of charity campaigns in the short term, controlling social media advertising in the future could prove challenging.

De Angelis notes that companies are drawn to influencers for their reach, and incorporating a charity component provides an additional incentive for consumers. Despite potential difficulties in enforcement, Italy’s move signals a proactive stance in addressing concerns related to transparency in charitable activities associated with commercial ventures.