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Celebrities Would Now Be Responsible For The Products They Endorse: Govt

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Amitabh Maggi Noodles

Earlier this month, a strange controversy erupted when a fashion and lifestyle blog claimed that the secret of Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit’s youthful and wrinkle free skin is BellaVeìand Phytoceramides and not Olay which she endorses since past several years.

Such was the heat generated that she had to clarify that the news was fake and she indeed uses Olay for her own personal usage.

Last year, during the raging Maggi controversy and the anger that it contained harmful chemicals, rumors are on that their brand ambassadors Amitabh Bachchan, Preeti Zinta and Madhuri Dixit may be arrested, because they endorsed Maggi publically. In fact, a Bihar court actually asked police to file FIR against these actors under IPC 420 for cheating, Section 270 for malignant act, Section 273 for sales of noxious food and drinks. However, due to lack of legal clarity, no such action was taken.

But now, things can change.

Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has clarified that under the new Consumer Protection Act, celebrities would be held responsible and accountable for the products they endorse. Hence, in case the brand misleads the consumers for selling a product, and if a celebrity publicly endorses that product, then action can be taken against them.

He said, “The Act will be moved in the monsoon session of Parliament. It will provide for action against celebrities and others endorsing misleading advertisements,”

This strong decision was taken after Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), a powerful lobby of domestic traders and merchants asked the Ministry to form guidelines pertaining to celebrities’ endorsements. The lobby said that irrespective of the quality and performance of the products, consumers are often impressed due to the endorsements and advertisements by celebrities (Bollywood stars, sportsmen mainly) and they buy the product.

Hence, from now, ‘liabilities’ of celebrities related to product endorsements have been fixed.Once the Consumer Protection Bill is passed by the Parliaments, more clarity regarding this issue would surface.

In 2002, Bollywood actors Hrithik Roshan and Shah Rukh Khan besides Sachin Tendulkar endorsed a fake company called Home Trade, which had no products to sell. After raking in investors’ money, the company vanished into thin air. In case such provisions existed in 2002, then all these celebrities would have been held responsible for the scam.

Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has earlier rapped several brands for their misleading advertisements such as Airtel for their 4G ads; Idea’s IIN ads besides Horlicks, Dabur, Heinz Ads and more. Within ecommerce space, Flipkart, Godaddy, Amazon, Snapdeal, Uber etc have been rapped by ASCI earlier as well.

With the passage of this bill, fixing liabilities on the celebrities, we are now expecting ASCI to be more vigil and active in stopping brands from misleading the consumers. And, at the same time, we expect celebrities to be more cautious and selective in choosing the brands they endorse.

We will keep you updated as more details come in.

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