Fashion brand Belenciaga is facing huge backlash for running an advertising campaign featuring young children holding BDSM teddy bears and surrounded by alcohol. In one of the photo shoots there’s even a Supreme Court ruling regarding child exploitation and pornography.
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver and Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp, who is also the father of two, jumped into the fray by calling out the company, asking consumers to hold them “responsible” for this obvious attempt at child grooming.
“To try and be a voice for our children,” stated Kupp in a post to his official Twitter, “who rely on the protection of the men and women that were entrusted the responsibility of nurturing them and raising them: please make yourself aware of the attack against our young ones by Balenciaga, and ensure that they are held responsible for it.”
He added, “For those of us in positions to create change in the way that companies manipulate people and advertise evil, please stand up!”
Balenciaga did issue an apology when the backlash began to make national news, but instead of taking accountability they instead attempted to pin it on the photographer instead, especially after one of the marketing images featured documents from a 2008 Supreme Court ruling (United States v. Williams) where the SCOTUS upheld portions of a child pornography law which “criminalized advertising, promoting, presenting or distributing child pornography even if the underlying material does not constitute child pornography.”
Twitter user XHoop questioned, “Wonder if Isabelle Huppert ever looked down at the papers under her right hand during her shoot for Balenciaga x Adidas.”
He then shared a photo showing off the Supreme Court document from 2008.
They posted to Instagram their apology, “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.”
In a follow-up statement they wrote, “We apologize 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 23 campaign photoshoot.”
“We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children safety and well-being,” they concluded.
The campaign photographer, Gabriele Galimberti, responded back to Balenciaga’s “apology” with a statement of her own on her personal Instagram.
“Following the hundreds of hate mails and messages I received as a result of the photos I took for the Balenciaga campaign, I feel compelled to make this statement,” wrote Galimberti. “I am not in a position to comment on Balenciaga’s choices, but I must stress that I was not entitled in whatsoever manner to neither chose the produces, nor the models, nor the combination of the same.”
“As a photographer, I was only and solely requested to lit the given scene, and take the shots according to my signature style. As usual for a commercial shooting, the direction of the campaign and the choice of the objects displayed are not in the hands of the photographer.
She continued, “I suspect that any person prone to pedophilia searches on the web and has unfortunately a too easy access to images completely different than mine, absolutely explicit in their awful content. Accusations like these are addressed against wrong targets, and distracts from the real problem, and criminals.”
“Also, I have no connection with the photo where a Supreme Court document appears. That one was taken in another set by other people and was falsely associated with my photos,” Galimberti concluded.
As noted by Balenciaga and Galimberti the holiday photo shoot with the children holding BDSM bears is separate from their Spring 23 campaign which featured the Supreme Court document.
One of Balenciaga’s top promoters Kim Kardashian also recently issued a statement implying that Balenciaga was trying to “normalize child abuse.”
She posted to Twitter, “I have been quiet for the past few days, not because I haven’t been disgusted and outraged by the recent Balenciaga campaigns, but because I wanted an opportunity to speak to their team to understand for myself how this could have happened.”
Next, she added, “As a mother of four, I have been shaken by the disturbing images. The safety of children must be held with the highest regard and any attempts to normalize child abuse of any kind should have no place in our society — period.”
Kardashian continued, “I appreciate Balenciaga’s removal of the campaigns and apology. In speaking with them, I believe they understand the seriousness of the issue and will take the necessary measures for this to never happen again.
She then revealed she’s reevaluating working with the company, “As for my future with Balenciaga, I am currently re-evaluating my relationship with the brand, basing it off their willingness to accept accountability for something that should have never happened to begin with — & the actions I am expecting to see them take to protect children.”
What do you make of Cupp’s statement? What do you make of Balenciaga’s apology and Kim Kardashian’s statement?