Balenciaga Files $25 Million Lawsuit Against Producers of Controversial 'BDSM Teddy Bear' Ad after Facing Severe Public Backlash

The company is also seeking redressal for damage done to its reputation as a result of the publication of the advertisement featuring its plush bear bags.

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According to recent court documents, Balenciaga has sued the creators of a contentious ad campaign that featured BDSM teddy bears and a child pornography court verdict for $25 million. The high fashion French brand filed the lawsuit against production company North Six, Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins and his eponymous company on Friday.

Balenciaga faced severe backlash over the weekend following the release of their Spring 2023 ad campaign, which went viral after they shared photos suggesting youngsters engaging in bondage practices with teddy bears. Since then, they have apologized and removed the posts from their website and social media accounts.

Counter Action

Balenciaga  ad
One of the Balenciaga ads featuring a child holding a teddy bear that is in bondage Twitter

Balenciaga on Friday filed a $25 million lawsuit against the production company North Six, Inc. and set designer Nicholas Des Jardins and his eponymous company after they released an ad campaign for the company that featured young children posing with teddy bears that appeared to be clothed in bondage gear.

The BDSM teddy bears are not mentioned in the two-page court summons.

Balenciaga
Another of the controversial ads in the series from Balenciaga Twitter

The company is also seeking redressal for damage done to its reputation as a result of the publication of the advertisement featuring its plush bear bags. They apologized for the situation on Instagram Stories, saying they take it "extremely seriously."

According to the complaint, Balenciaga alleges that North Six and Des Jardins included the court documents' photographs without consulting it, which was "malevolent or, at the very least, extraordinarily reckless."

"As a result of Defendants' misconduct, members of the public, including the news media, have falsely and horrifically associated Balenciaga with the repulsive and deeply disturbing subject of the court decision," the court papers charge. "Defendants are liable to Balenciaga for all harm resulting from this false association."

A New Fight

The adverts supported the brand's spring/summer 2023 collection and were released at Paris Fashion Week. However, the company immediately faced backlash for showing children partaking in bondage acts with teddy bears.

Balenciaga
Another of the controversial Balenciaga ads Twitter

They have since taken down the posts from their site and social media pages, along with issuing an apology.

On Tuesday, the company apologized and said it had removed the teddy bear advertisements. "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," the company said in a statement.

Kanye West
Kanye West Twitter

One eagle-eyed watchdog discovered the high court documents about child pornography statutes while examining the divisive campaign.

In addition, the company also apologized for "displaying unsettling documents in our campaign" and announced it would pursue legal action against those "creating the set and including unapproved items for our Spring 23 campaign photoshoot."

Kim Kardashian
Kim Kardashian Instagram

"We strongly condemn abuse of children in any form. We stand for children's safety and well-being," the company concluded.

The luxury firm was involved in another argument last month after musician and fashion mogul Kanye West, who has frequently worked with the company's art director, made anti-Semitic threats.

The rapper's former girlfriend Kim Kardashian and her family are close friends of Balenciaga, who has severed ties with him.

This article was first published on November 28, 2022
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