As per the new guideline released by the government, celebrities and social media Influencers must, prominently and clearly, display the disclosures in the endorsement and use terms ‘advertisement’, ‘sponsored’ or ‘paid promotion’ for endorsements.
Government has released a guide ‘Endorsements Know-hows’ for celebrities, influencers and virtual influencers on social media platforms to ensure that the celebs do not mislead their audiences when endorsing products or services and that they are in compliance with the Consumer Protection Act and any associated rules or guidelines.
This is in response to the rapidly growing digital world, where advertisements are no longer limited to traditional media like print, television, or radio. With the increasing reach of digital platforms and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, there has been a rise in the influence of virtual influencers, in addition to celebrities and social media influencers. This has led to an increased risk of consumers being misled by advertisements and unfair trade practices by these individuals on social media platforms.
The new guideline specify that disclosures must be prominently and clearly displayed in the endorsement, making them extremely hard to miss.
Any celebrity, influencer or virtual influencer who has access to an audience and can influence their purchasing decisions or opinions about a product, service, brand, or experience must disclose any material connection with the advertiser. This includes not only benefits and incentives, but also monetary or other compensation, trips or hotel stays, media barters, coverage and awards, free products with or without conditions, discounts, gifts and any family or personal or employment relationship.
Endorsements must be made in simple, clear language and terms such as “advertisement,” “sponsored,” or “paid promotion” can be used. They should not endorse any product or service and service in which due diligence has not been done by them or that they have not personally used or experienced.
The new endorsement guideline is in line with the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 which protects consumers from unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements.
Guidelines for prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022 was published on 9th June 2022 which outline the criteria for valid advertisements and the responsibilities of manufacturers, service providers, advertisers, and advertising agencies. These guidelines also touched upon the celebrities and endorsers. It states that misleading advertisement in any form, format or medium is prohibited by law.