The Govt. of India has released guidelines to be followed by celebrities and social media influencers while giving endorsements for products or services. These guidelines were formulated keeping in mind the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, and ensuring that the audience is not misled when individuals endorse products and services since such endorsement has a significant influence on the public.
The government has noted the people’s tendency to make decisions to buy a particular product or avail of a certain service based on several factors, including endorsements made by celebrities and social media influencers. Further, the shift in the manner of the advertisement has been taken into account, considering the rise in digital media and the reduction in the use of traditional mediums of advertisement.
Clear rules have been laid down for the endorsement of products, including the display of disclosures and preventing individuals from endorsing products that they haven’t personally used or where they have not done their due diligence. Here, disclosure means making the consumers aware that the particular piece of information is provided in the form of an advertisement, given that it is becoming increasingly difficult for consumers to ascertain whether it is the influencer’s opinion or experience about that product or service or it is an endorsement or advertisement. It has also been made mandatory for the influencers to disclose all material interests, including gifts, labels, services, etc.
The Department of Consumer Affairs released these guidelines on January 20, 2023, and the violation of these guidelines would attract a strict penalty which can be extended to the cancellation of endorsements. The industry has shown its appreciation for these guidelines as it believes that these guidelines will further strengthen the industry and protect the interests of consumers.