This article on ‘New Endorsement Guidelines for Celebrities and Social Media Influencers: All you need to know‘ was written by Rishabh Tyagi, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
This article deals with the recently released guidelines for celebrities and social media influencers by the central government. The new guidelines for endorsements by celebrities and social media influencers in India require them to disclose any financial or other benefits they may receive from promoting a product or brand on their social media platforms. If they fail to do so, they may face penalties of up to ₹ 50 lakhs. The article would enunciate the nuances of these guidelines and state how to comply with the requisite statutory regulations.
Endorsement Guidelines for Celebrities and Social Media Influencers
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has recently issued new guidelines for celebrity and social media influencers’ endorsements to ensure that such endorsements are truthful, not misleading, and clearly distinguish between sponsored and organic content. These guidelines aim to protect consumers from being misled by false or exaggerated claims and promote ethical advertising practices.
One of the key requirements of the guidelines is that celebrities and influencers must disclose any material connections they have with brands they endorse. This is to ensure that consumers are aware of any financial or other incentives that may be influencing the endorsement. The guidelines also require that the claims made in endorsements can be substantiated and that celebrities and influencers should not promote anything that is illegal, unsafe, or violative of the ASCI code.
Another important aspect of the guidelines is that celebrities and influencers must clearly distinguish between sponsored content and organic content. This is to ensure that consumers are aware of when they are viewing an advertisement and when they are viewing content that is not sponsored. The guidelines stipulate that sponsored content should be clearly labelled as such and that influencers should not use misleading hashtags or captions to hide the fact that the content is sponsored.
The guidelines also require that celebrities and influencers should not make false or misleading claims in their endorsements. This includes making exaggerated claims about the effectiveness of a product or making claims that cannot be substantiated by scientific evidence. The guidelines also prohibit celebrities and influencers from promoting anything illegal or unsafe, such as promoting products that are banned by the government or promoting dangerous activities.
Furthermore, the guidelines also prohibit celebrities and influencers from promoting anything that is violative of the ASCI code, such as promoting products that are discriminatory or promoting products that are harmful to the environment.
Additionally, the guidelines also require that celebrities and influencers must be mindful of the impact of their endorsements on vulnerable groups, such as children and young people. This includes not promoting products that are harmful to children’s health or that are likely to encourage unhealthy or dangerous behaviour.
How to Disclose?
The new guidelines have outlined who is required to disclose any financial or other benefits they receive from promoting a product or brand, when they should make this disclosure, and how they should do so. According to the guidelines, individuals or groups who have a significant influence over their audience’s purchasing decisions or opinions about a product, service, brand, or experience due to their authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience must make a disclosure. The disclosure should occur when there is a significant connection between an advertiser and the celebrity/influencer that may impact the credibility or weight of the representation made by the celebrity/influencer.
The new guidelines require that disclosures should be made in a manner that is “hard to miss” and in simple language. The disclosures should be placed prominently in the endorsement message, and should not be mixed with a group of hashtags or links. In endorsements that include a picture, the disclosures should be superimposed over the image in a way that is clearly visible to viewers. In videos, disclosures should be placed both in the video itself and in the description and should be made in both audio and video format.
In live streams, disclosures should be prominently displayed throughout the entire stream. On platforms with limited space, such as Twitter, terms like ‘ABC Ambassador’ (where ABC is a brand) are also acceptable. The guidelines are being issued under the Consumer Protection Act, which aims to prevent unfair trade practices, such as misleading advertisements. While these practices have been effectively managed on traditional media platforms like TV, print, and radio, the guidelines aim to address similar issues on social and digital media platforms.
Acceptance of Guidelines
During the press conference for the release of the new guidelines for endorsements by celebrities and social media influencers, multiple social media influencers and agencies participated via video conferencing. These individuals and groups expressed their support for the guidelines and said that they believe the guidelines will strengthen the industry and protect the interests of consumers.
Manisha Kapoor, CEO & Secretary General of ASCI, stated that the organization welcomes the new endorsement guidelines released by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and that they are in alignment with ASCI’s own influencer guidelines from 2021. Kapoor also mentioned that almost 30% of the ads reviewed by ASCI involve violations by influencers and that the legal backing for disclosure requirements is a positive step. She added that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs had been in contact with ASCI to review global guidelines on influencers.
It’s important to note that these guidelines are not only for the celebrities and influencers but also for the brands, advertisers and agencies who are working with them. They are responsible for ensuring that the content created for their brand or product is compliant with the guidelines and that the celebrities and influencers they work with are aware of and comply with the guidelines.
In conclusion, the new guidelines for endorsements by celebrities and social media influencers in India are intended to protect consumers from being misled by false or exaggerated claims and to promote ethical advertising practices. By requiring celebrities and influencers to disclose any material connections they have with brands they endorse, mandating that the claims made in their endorsements can be substantiated, and prohibiting them from promoting anything that is illegal, unsafe, or violative of the ASCI code, these guidelines aim to ensure that consumers are provided with accurate and reliable information when viewing endorsements by celebrities and influencers.
- [pib]. (25 January 2023). Centre releases endorsement guidelines for Celebs and Social Media Influencers. Retrieved: https://www.pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1892527
- [the hindu]. (25 January 2023). Centre issues guidelines to social media influencers to regulate promotions. Retrieved: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/product-promotions-govt-makes-disclosure-of-material-interest-mandatory-for-social-media-influencers/article66414009.ece
- [Hindustan Times]. (25 January 2023). Centre issues ‘endorsements know-how’ guidelines for celebs, social media influencers. Check details. Retrieved: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/centre-issues-endorsements-know-how-guidelines-for-celebs-social-media-influencers-check-details-101674226120612.html
- [Tax Guru]. (25 January 2023). Centre releases endorsement guidelines for Celebs and Social Media Influencers. Retrieved: https://taxguru.in/corporate-law/centre-releases-endorsement-guidelines-celebs-social-media-influencers.html