Italy spends €9 million on ‘Open to meraviglia’ campaign.

Wanted in Rome – Italy’s new tourism marketing campaign featuring Botticelli’s Venus as a “virtual influencer” has faced a wave of criticism, including from within the government, since its launch last Thursday.

The “Open to meraviglia” campaign features the Roman goddess of love wearing modern-day clothes, including a miniskirt, posing in front of various Italian landmarks holding a cell phone or a slice of pizza.

The €9 million campaign, launched by tourism minister Daniela Santanchè and Italy’s national tourism board ENIT, was slammed by the Italian culture undersecretary and outspoken art critic Vittorio Sgarbi.

“Since Venus is naked, it would have been better to see her that way, without needing to dress her up like this”, Sgarbi told La Repubblica newspaper, describing the campaign as “the stuff of Ferragni”, (referring to social media influencer Chiara Ferragni) and asking: “Open to meraviglia? What’s that about? What language is it?”

Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano reported over the weekend that one scene in the promotional video, featuring young people drinking wine in an outdoor setting, was filmed in Slovenia and came from a stock footage platform.

In addition, an Italian marketing company was quick to spot that the Open to meraviglia campaign was not registered with its own website and promptly purchased the domain name.