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Balenciaga faces backlash after creepy and disturbing ad campaign

Luxury fashion house Balenciaga has issued an apology after facing intense backlash for an ad campaign they ran that was… questionable, to say the least.

Eccentricity is ironically common in fashion, especially with luxury fashion brands. People wait with bated breath and social media ready for the next odd thing that a big-name brand will do. In line with that, Balenciaga decided to launch a quirky campaign to get people talking about their Gift Shop collection. However, it turned out to be more creepy than quirky.

[Hero image: Daniel Lee/Unsplash]

Balenciaga pulls controversial ad campaign involving kids after backlash

The ad campaign, shot by Gabriele Galimberti, involved kids posing with a number of Balenciaga’s items. The theme of the shoot was inspired by the giving and receiving of gifts as well as Galimberti’s famous “Toy Story” series. Some of the photos had a child holding a teddy bear. Cute, right?

Sure, if the bear wasn’t clad in BDSM gear.

The photos of the campaign clearly show the bear sporting harnesses and handcuffs while being held by the child. Meanwhile, other items strewn around include a dog collar choker and a chain leash. If that wasn’t enough, eagle-eyed people on the Internet also honed in on some papers that were also among the items that were scattered. The documents turned out to be pertaining to a case involving child pornography. 

One of Balenciaga’s apologies that was posted on their IG stories (Image credit: Balenciaga IG)

Balenciaga quickly issued an apology on the IG stories, stating “We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused. Our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign. We have immediately removed the campaign from all platforms.” They also issued another apology when the child pornography documents were discovered, saying they were “taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for our Spring 23 campaign photoshoot” and added that they “strongly condemn abuse of children in any form”.

For his part, Galimberti told CNN that he “was not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither chose (sic) the products, nor the models, nor the combination of the same.” He added, “Lynching like these are addressed against wrong targets, and distract from the real problem, and criminals.”

It’s disturbing that a campaign as big as this would be approved and published. The lack of accountability, especially on Galimberti’s part, is also troubling. Whatever the thinking was behind the campaign, what’s clear is that the people behind it weren’t thinking at all. 


Balenciaga faces backlash after creepy and disturbing ad campaign

Eric E. Surbano

Eric can be found lost in his own world jamming with headphones on while writing when he's not prepping for a DnD session or researching 'Star Wars' galactic history on Wookiepedia. A proud Ravenclaw, he loves playing (and writing about) video games, humming the 'Doctor Who' theme under his breath, and rewatching 'Friends', 'New Girl', and 'The West Wing'.


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