In releasing the new guidelines for manufacturers, service providers, advertisers and advertising agencies on Friday, the center clarified that even celebrity endorsements must be done with due diligence to avoid fines.
Celebrity or professional endorsements and other issues were discussed at a Department for Consumer Affairs (DoCA) media briefing in the context of the Central Consumer Agency’s Guidelines (Preventing Misleading Advertising and Necessary Due Diligence for Advocacy Advocates), 2022, issued by the Central Consumer Agency ( CCPA).
“Any endorsement must reflect the genuine, reasonably current opinion of the person, group or entity making such representation and must be based on reasonable information or experience about the goods, products or services identified and not otherwise misleading,” the said relevant clause of the guidelines.
Asked whether these guidelines apply to celebrities, particularly actors and athletes, Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary at the Department of Consumer Affairs, said: “You have to be safe; You should do proper homework. I know it’s a subjective thing, but the spirit here is that they shouldn’t arbitrarily support every advertisement. They should exercise some due diligence so that they can accept responsibility for the claims made in the advertisements.”
Due diligence doesn’t mean that the celebrity tries that product or service themselves, it can be a considered opinion of a family member or someone they trust, he said.
When asked whether a celebrity endorsement should be fined, Singh said: “If there is a violation of the guidelines, the Consumer Protection Agency has the power under the law to impose fines. Maximum regulations are mentioned, so that it is up to the authority to carry out a sufficient examination, which is appropriate to the violation of the law.
The whole idea is to make the consumer protection framework fair, transparent, reasonable and objective, even if that’s not 100 percent possible, he said.
“Where Indian professionals, whether resident in India or not, are barred by any law from sponsoring a promotion, foreign professionals of that profession are also not permitted to sponsor any such promotion,” said Nidhi Khare, Additional Secretary, DoCA .
Referring to the ministry’s previous action of censoring Sensodyen toothpaste for showing a doctor of Indian descent endorsing its products, Singh said: “The Dental Association prohibits its members from endorsing such products and therefore can professionals are not shown. But then the advertisers brought in foreigners with Indian looks. The new guidelines prohibit such types of endorsements.”