Does it ever happen to you that you bought something after watching your favourite actress using that particular item in that advertisement but it was total crap and you regretted it? You must know that you are not the only one and many people regretted doing the same. It’s the tactics used by brands to lure customers to buy their products. This is a grave injustice done to the customers who buy goods due to misleading information.
To protect the rights of consumers, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs issued ‘endorsements know-how’ guidelines for celebrities, influencers and virtual influencers on social media platforms. This guideline has been aimed to curb misleading advertisements and protect the interests of consumers. It has been made mandatory for all social media influencers to disclose all the material facts while endorsing any products, schemes or services. It includes any individual/group who has access to a large audience and has the power to affect their purchasing decision because of the trust gained from their followers based on their knowledge, position and relationship with the audience.
When to disclose?
Whenever there is a material connection between the advertiser and a celebrity including but not limited to monetary compensation, discounts, gifts or free products, trips or hotel stays or any kind of coverage or an award or if there’s any family, personal or employment relationship between them.
How to disclose?
Disclosures must be made in a way that is clear and hard to miss and doesn’t get lost between the hashtags and the links. On social media platforms with limited space, a 2-3 words explanation is also acceptable. ‘Advertisements’, ‘ad’, and ‘sponsored’ terms are also acceptable as far as it is clear and understandable. It should be laid over the endorsement picture enough to get noticed. The language of the advertisement and the disclosure should be the same. In a video advertisement, it must be made in audio as well as video apart from the description. In a live stream, it must be displayed continuously for viewers joining at any time. Apart from these, a separate disclosure can also be made for a better explanation.
Responsibilities of celebrities/influencers
To avoid any legal complexities, celebrities/influencers must do the due diligence before closing up the deal. They must first review the products and services to confirm and satisfy themselves about the truthfulness of the claims being made by the advertising brands.
Violation of any provisions of the guidelines can lead to a heavy penalty that will definitely be more than what they can make out of the advertisements. The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) can impose a penalty of up to Rs 10 lakhs on manufacturers, advertisers and endorsers. For subsequent offences, a penalty of up to Rs 50 lakhs can also be imposed. The CCPA can also prohibit the endorser of a misleading ad from making any endorsement for up to 1 year which can get extended for subsequent contravention up to 3 years as well.
We hope these guidelines will lessen the number of misleading advertisements and we can make purchasing decisions more fairly.
What are your opinions? Let us know in the comment below.