The Balenciaga Blame Game: Why The Buck Stops With The Brand After Controversial Campaign

A luxury fashion house has faced harsh criticism after its Christmas campaign was found to contain several references to child abuse. Can it really deny responsibility?

Balenciaga came under attack with two photoshoots that have since been deleted but appear to have an ominous air. The first, shot by Gabriele Galimberti for his Christmas campaign, portrayed young children carrying the brand’s “stuffed bear bag”, appearing to be wearing S&M-style harnesses. This came out alongside a Spring 23 ad that Newsweek attributed to photographer Chris Maggio of his, showing Supreme Court documents in a child pornography case laid on the table. I can.

This backlash has led to a social media blame game, with brands and creatives blaming each other.

Balenciaga released a statement on Instagram, saying, “We take this matter very seriously and have taken legal action against the parties who created the set by including unapproved items in our Spring 23 campaign photoshoot. We strongly condemn all forms of child abuse and we will protect the safety and health of children.”

Photographer Galimberti was quick to state that his role was simply to point the camera. combination of the same.

“As a photographer, I was only asked to light a given scene and take shots according to my signature style. I don’t have it.”

Balenciaga is reportedly not planning to take legal action against Galimberti or Maggio, but plans to target the creative teams behind both shoots who aren’t full-time employees.

But advertising industry executives who have been involved in high-fashion shoots say it ultimately costs Balenciaga.

“It takes months to plan and work out all the details of an idea between the brand and the production team/photographer,” says Zara Ineson, Executive Creative Director of House 337, which works with M&S and SimplyBe. explains.

“On the day, there are large teams and people running everywhere. It can feel chaotic and things can slip through the net. When they do the job, they scrutinize every detail of the shot and make the final decision when it’s the right time to move on.”

Galimberti’s claim that he never had the “right” to choose a product or model is something Ineson finds “hard to swallow.” According to her, most luxury brands will form partnerships between creative her directors and photographers to collaborate on ideas.

“Even if it wasn’t a collaborative process between himself and the brand, the photographer (or at least his representative) would research the idea before accepting the job.” I’m here.

“There are a lot of scenes where the photographer can drop out if he doesn’t feel like it before the shoot.”

In any project, many people share the responsibility of completing the brief and there is an approval process. In the weeks leading up to a shoot, you have to think about set design, styling, and casting. Ineson adds that “these decisions would likely have been endorsed by Demna” if there was a Balenciaga campaign. [Balenciaga’s creative director] himself”.

she continues. He would have signed off before the campaign was released. ”

World-famous photographer Rankin, who has worked on campaigns for brands such as Diesel and Rimmel, alleges that Galimberti and Maggio conspired and both neglected their duty of care to their models.

he said: But when photographers look through the lens, they are responsible for their subject.

“Especially when you’re a kid, you owe it to yourself to pay attention to your talents. In this instance, they dropped the ball from both creative direction and photography.”

Some of Balenciaga’s biggest critics have accused the brand of stirring up controversy in hopes of generating PR.Laurent François, managing partner of 180 Social and 180 Luxe Among our clients, we say that the entire campaign highlights the problem of “tinkering with boundaries and looking for the next topic.”

he said: “Instead of cultivating a community around narrative, gradually building a deeper understanding, and helping them transition to something less expected and more nuanced, Balenciaga fell into the obsessional trap of the next day’s headlines. I jumped in.”

A reminder that for creativity to make an impact, it must be obsessed with a particular understanding of deep brand values ​​and anticipation of community reactions, especially in the advertising space.Brand territory.

Drumm reached out to Balenciaga for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of writing.

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