23 January 2023
The Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (vide press release dated January 20, 2023) has released guidelines for celebrities, influencers and virtual influencers specifically with respect to social media platforms. The said guidelines are called ‘Endorsement Know-hows! For Celebrities, Influencers & Virtual Influencers on Social Media platforms
These guidelines talks about the disclosure of certain information by such celebs and influencers while they are advertising/ promoting certain products on social media platforms.
1) Let’s break down some key words and it’s meaning
Celebrities: Famous personalities, including but not limited to the entertainment or sports industry have the power to affect the decisions or opinions of their audience.
Influencers: Creators who advertise products and services with a strong influence on the purchasing decisions or opinions of their audience.
Virtual Influencers: Fictional computer-generated ‘people’ or avatars who have realistic characteristics, features, and personalities of humans, and behave in a similar manner as influencers.
Material connection: Includes but is not limited to benefits and incentives, such as:
2) Who should be disclosing information?
Individuals/ groups who have access to an audience and the power to affect their audiences’ purchasing decisions or opinions about a product, service, brand or experience, because of the influencer’s / celebrity’s authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience.
3) When should such information be disclosed?
A material connection between an advertiser and celebrity/ influencer may affect the weight or credibility of the representation made by the celebrity/ influencer.
4) How to disclose information?
5) Due Diligence
Celebrities/influencers are always advised to review and satisfy themselves that the advertiser is in a position to substantiate the claims made in the advertisement. It is strongly recommended that the endorser of a product or service should have actually used or experienced the product or service before endorsing it.
6) Consequences of non-compliance
Such celebs/ influencers shall be made liable under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 for non-compliance or non-disclosure (in case of false or misleading advertisements, penalty may extend up to INR 50 Lakhs).
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