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What can artists & music brands learn from Chiara Ferragni's crisis communication?

Unless you have been living in a cave for the last couple of months, you have probably heard about one of the biggest scandals since the birth of modern influencer marketing.

Chiara Ferragni, one of the first and most important influencer, blogger and entrepreneur in Italy and in the world, has been fined by local Italian authority "AGCM" with over 1 million Euro and is currently being under investigation for aggravated fraud over a partnership with Balocco (a famous brand of Italian xmas "cakes") that involved charity activities with Regina Margherita hospital in Turin.

If you would like to read more detail about what happened, I recommend to check out this article by the Guardian.

The aim of this blog is not to express my views on her actions or whether I believe she is innocent. Instead, I want to highlight the efforts made by Chiara Ferragni and her team in addressing this significant crisis on social media while saving her and her brands' images through crisis communication.

chiara ferragni crisis management

If you're a musician or a music industry brand, you likely understand the critical importance of reputation, considering the constant scrutiny that comes with widespread public attention. Furthermore, considering that "communication errors" can occur at any moment, it is important to have a strategy in place that aims to protect the artist or the company's image.

While the accusations against Chiara Ferragni are quite serious, I must acknowledge that her communication strategy has been remarkably interesting and sometimes questionable. Crisis management is the process that a person or a brand puts into action the moment that their reputation is under a threat: It involves a set of coordinated actions and strategies designed to address and mitigate the impact of a crisis while reinforcing a positive image of the individual or brand.

Below, I have delineated 6 steps that I believe Chiara's team put into action to protect her image while working on a rebranding.

Step 1: take control over the narrative

Once the bomb has exploded all over the web, Chiara has decided to release an "apology" video, that can be divided in 3 parts:

  • First of all, Chiara immediately connects with her audience on an emotional level, talking about her family and her values.

  • Secondly, the influencer clarifies that a "communication error" occurred and that she will devolve 1 million € to the Regina Margherita Hospital. She expressed her commitment to continuing charity activities privately and that those will be separated from her business from now on

  • She states that the fine she was given is way too high and that this punishment is not proportionate to her mistake.

chiara ferragni apology video

I think it is very interesting the fact that, even though Chiara has a very international fanbase, she has decided to speak in her native language, Italian. This decision is strategic: Chiara wants to limit the damage of this story locally, knowing that by doing so she is "excluding" million of fans who will not understand what is going on and would probably underestimate the gravity of the situation.

Another interesting factor is her look and the background of her video: following the steps of the apology video of Mila Kunis with Ashton Kutcher, Chiara has decided to opt for a make up free look combined with a grey shirt and her hair tight back. The background is neutral.

So where are all the fancy clothes, the perfect blow dry and the impeccable make gone? Chiara simply wants to be seen as "one of us", somebody that makes mistakes and apologie for them. She wants people to relate to her and by doing so she is achieving her goal.

mila kunis ashton kutcher

Step 2: vanish

After this video, Chiara goes radio silent for few weeks and literally vanishes from social media. I believe that, considering that this scandal came out around xmas time, the influencer has simply decided to spend time with her family while letting her audience steam off. In fact, her profiles have been bombarded with negative comments, threats and insults. Taking a step back and start working with her team on her come back strategy while people got rid of their anger, was a very smart move.

Step 3: come back

Chiara comes back in January, however her Instagram page has changed look and form:

  • Chiara is mainly posting content about her kids (nothing about her husband, rapper Fedez) knowing that people would probably be more kind to a mum. Honestly, I really do not appreciate this strategy.

  • Comments are still limited and only the positive ones are visible. I believe that for her mental health, this was the right decision.

  • Chiara owns several brands that vary from make up to clothing. Since her come back, Chiara has been posting a lot about her own products (no other brands) and everything has been on sale for weeks. Another strategy that unfortunately makes her look "desperate" and proves the fact that her brand is losing value.

Step 4: endorsement

The fourth step of her crisis communication, is to be seen with other famous friends that are generally perceived positively from the public eye: an example is the picture with Alice Campello Morata, another Italian entrepreneur and mum of 4 kids, which she had with footballer Alvaro Morata.

Alice has a very good reputation and this can only help Chiara to re-establish her brand in a positive way. Smart moove!

Step 5 - rebranding

Yesterday, Chiara has posted a picture asking her followers if she should dye her hair back to brown. After her sister Valentina decided to become brunette few days ago, it is very interesting that Chiara now also wants to go back to the origins and might change her hair to brown.

In my opinion this would be a great strategy as by changing her appearance to a less flashy look this would help her to be perceived as a "new woman" and more down to earth.

Step 6 - distract

Few hours ago, Italian online publication Dagospia has announced that Chiara and Fedez are divorcing. Many people are rumouring that this is another strategy by Chiara's team to shift the attention from the Pandoro scandal. Considering that there are two small kids involved, I really hope that this is not the case.


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