comScore

How it Works

Balenciaga Ad Controversy: Brand files $25 million lawsuit against producers of controversial ads

The child pornography document in the Balenciaga Spring 2023 campaign might have gone unnoticed had it not been for another ad campaign that landed the fashion house in hot water earlier this month.

By  MoneycontrolNov 29, 2022 10:10 AM
Balenciaga Ad Controversy: Brand files $25 million lawsuit against producers of controversial ads
“The campaign for spring 2023, which was meant to replicate a business office environment, included a photo with a page in the background from a Supreme Court Ruling 'United States V. Williams' 2008, which confirms as illegal and not protected by freedom of speech the promotion of child pornography,” Balenciaga said in the statement. (Representative image via Unsplash)

By Sanya Jain

Luxury fashion house Balenciaga has apologised for two controversial ad campaigns while suing the production company behind one of them. Balenciaga is seeking at least $25 million in damages from production company North Six, Inc., set designer Nicholas Des Jardins and his company, reports CNN.

North Six and Des Jardins were hired to develop and produce the label’s Spring 2023 campaign.

In one of the pictures showcasing a Balenciaga handbag, eagle-eyed internet users noticed a 2008 US Supreme Court ruling on child pornography in the background.

The child pornography document in the Balenciaga Spring 2023 campaign might have gone unnoticed had it not been for another ad campaign that landed the fashion house in hot water earlier this month.

The brand’s holiday collection was introduced this month with a campaign that sparked massive outrage, featuring as it did young children cuddling teddy bears in BDSM-inspired costumes.

The Gift Shop ad campaign, shot by photographer Gabriele Galimberti, shows children with teddy bears that are wearing fishnet tops and harnesses. In one of the pictures, a young girl is photographed with several wine glasses on the table in front of her.

The pictures drew massive backlash for sexualising young children as thousands of people accused Balenciaga of condoning child abuse and child exploitation. The label removed the campaign and issued an apology saying “our plush bear bags should not have been featured with children in this campaign.”

In the background of this controversy, the Spring 2023 campaign photoshoot came back to haunt Balenciaga. Some social media users noticed the poorly-hidden court document on child pornography laws in the background of a photograph meant to showcase the label’s luxury handbags.

According to NPR, the document is from a 2008 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Williams. The ruling criminalised child pornography.

Balenciaga’s statement

“The campaign for spring 2023, which was meant to replicate a business office environment, included a photo with a page in the background from a Supreme Court Ruling 'United States V. Williams' 2008, which confirms as illegal and not protected by freedom of speech the promotion of child pornography,” Balenciaga said in the statement.

“All the items included in this shooting were provided by third parties that confirmed in writing that these papers were fake office documents. They turned out to be real legal papers most likely coming from the filming of a television drama.”

It added that the defendants' “inexplicable acts and omissions were malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless.”

The statement continued: "We take full accountability for our lack of oversight and control of the documents in the background, and we could have done things differently."

(This article first appeared in Moneycontrol)

First Published on Nov 29, 2022 10:10 AM