Balenciaga Comes Under Fire for Controversial Holiday Campaign Featuring Children

Balenciaga issued an apology after being accused of sexualizing children.

Balenciaga Comes Under Fire for Controversial Holiday Campaign Featuring Children
Balenciaga removes ad campaign featuring children holding inappropriate plush bear bags.

Balenciaga recently released a holiday campaign featuring pictures of children holding plush bear bags with BDSM-inspired handcuffs and harnesses. Shot by Gabriele Galimberti and known as The Gift Shop Campaign was soon surrounded by controversy as one image showed a child with not just a teddy bear but also surrounded by inappropriate accessories, like a dog collar choker, and a chain leash.


Now the company has taken it down. Balenciaga said in a statement posted to its Instagram Stories on Tuesday, “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.”


Twitter users also called out promotional imagery from the previous Adidas collaboration that included an excerpt from the 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling United States v. Williams. The case upheld penalties for the sexual exploitation of children and additional forms of child abuse. Balenciaga issued a statement and claimed that they did not approve the document. It also mentioned that the company is taking legal action against those responsible for the set.


In another Instagram story, Balenciaga said, “We apologise for displaying unsettling documents in our campaign. We take this matter very seriously and are taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set and including unapproved items for our Spring 2023 campaign photoshoot. We strongly condemn the abuse of children in any form. We stand for children safety and well-being.”


The controversial campaign from Balenciaga was initially launched earlier this month. It aimed to broadcast Balenciaga’s latest merchandise. It claimed that the shoot iterated on Galimberti’s Toy Stories series. The series explores “what people collect and receive as gifts.”


In other news from Balenciaga, the brand officially left Twitter a few days after Elon Musk acquired the social media platform. Several Twitter users speculated that the timing of the decision to quit Twitter was odd. Also, other companies like Dyson and General Motors have suspended their advertising campaigns on Twitter.

Share this on social media