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Balenciaga’s Appalling Ad Scandal Sparks Outrage

$8 billion dollar fashion conglomerate, Balenciaga, released two controversial campaigns involving images of young children shown posing with stuffed animals dressed in inappropriate attire with beer and wine glasses in their vicinity. 

Only a few hours after its publication, the ads started gaining an extreme amount of attraction but not in the way that Balenciaga had hoped. The ad caused a quick influx of critics immediately swarmed the company, demanding answers, to which they promptly issued an apology on November 22nd.

Many of the critics took to Twitter stating things such as “pedophilia is NOT fashionable!” and “Balenciaga- Where is the outrage?!?” expressing their concerns about the images being released. 

Allegations of Balenciaga condoning child exploitation fueled reports on countless media outlets such as Forbes. Then on November 28, almost two weeks after the scandal, the brand released yet another apology after numerous Instagram apologies failed to calm the hail of criticism this corporate giant was receiving.

Balenciaga followed the two public statements by announcing that they would be reaching out to organizations that work in child protection and whose goal is to aid abused children.

The brand admitted in its statement that they were at fault, sharing “a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility,” and that it would conduct a thorough investigation into the matter, as to pinpoint those responsible and hold those individuals accountable. To put it simply, for the brand to not only spend only dedicate their funds to the formation of the ad in terms of props and materials even after the design was shared, it is evident that there is bound to be people involved in the creation process. 

The investigation led to a $25 million lawsuit against campaign production company North Six and the Garderobe set designer Nicholas Des Jardins. Balenciaga’s legal teams document that North Six and Jardins participated in, “inexplicable acts and omissions,” that were, “malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless.” There was a lack of a review chain for the publication process for the brand. For a topic so sensitive to the public to be released as part of a promotional strategy, there had to be those who chose ignorance, as opposed to critically analyzing the ad’s possible responses and effects.

Claims were made those explicit items were put into the photographs without the company’s knowledge which ended up having Balenciaga associated with child pornography. However, this statement has been speculated by many, determining that this is simply a blatant excuse that is heavily unsupported and vague. This association caused The Business of Fashion to take back their Global Voices award they awarded to creative director Demna Gvasalia at the beginning of the year. Critics foresee Balenciaga having significantly damaged its reputation after this scandal.

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