Endorsements Know-hows! Guidelines
The advent of social media has significantly changed the way we communicate and conduct business. Social media has also provided an opportunity for businesses to promote their products and services through celebrity and influencer endorsements. However, the rise of endorsements has also brought with it ethical concerns about misleading advertisements and deceptive practices. In response to these concerns, the Indian government has released a set of guidelines called “Endorsements Know-hows!” for social media endorsements.
Objective of the Guidelines
The guidelines were released by the Department of Consumer Affairs, under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution. The guidelines are aimed at celebrities, influencers, and virtual influencers who endorse products or services on social media platforms. The objective of the guidelines is to ensure that the endorsers do not deceive their audiences and comply with the Consumer Protection Act and other related rules or guidelines.
Guidelines for Endorsements
The guidelines specify several requirements for endorsements on social media platforms. Endorsements should be made in simple, clear language that is easily understood by the audience. Endorsers should only endorse products or services that they have personally used or experienced. They should not promote products or services that make false or exaggerated claims about their benefits or results. Endorsers must also disclose any material connections they have with the advertiser, such as receiving payment or free products or services.
The guidelines also provide specific requirements for making disclosures. Endorsers must ensure that their disclosures are clear, prominent, and difficult to miss. They must disclose their connection with the advertiser in a way that is easily understandable by the audience, using words such as “advertisement,” “sponsored,” “promoted,” or “paid partnership.” The disclosure should be made before the endorsement and not hidden in a long list of hashtags or buried in the middle of a long caption.
Enforcement and Penalties
The guidelines also specify the enforcement mechanisms and penalties for non-compliance. The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) will monitor the compliance of endorsers with these guidelines. If ASCI finds that an endorsement violates the guidelines, it can ask the endorser to withdraw the endorsement or modify it appropriately. If an endorser fails to comply with ASCI’s directive, the advertisement may be considered a misleading advertisement and may result in legal action under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019. Additionally, non-compliance may result in the removal of the endorsement and even a monetary penalty.
Importance of the Guidelines
These guidelines are essential for promoting transparency and authenticity in the endorsement industry. Endorsements by celebrities and influencers can have a significant impact on consumer behaviour and purchasing decisions. Therefore, it is crucial that these endorsements are truthful and not misleading. By ensuring that endorsers comply with these guidelines, consumers can make informed decisions based on accurate information.