GS Paper 4
Syllabus: Ethical concerns and dilemmas in government and private institutions; laws, rules, regulations, and conscience as sources of ethical guidance; accountability and ethical governance;
Context: The Centre has released endorsement guidelines for celebrities and social media influencers that mandate compulsory disclosure of monetary or material benefits of a product or a brand they are promoting through their social media platforms.
- The new guidelines emphasize the increased risk of consumers being misled by advertisements and unfair trade practices by some individuals on social media platforms.
- Non-disclosure of brand affiliations by influencers may invite a penalty of up to Rs 50 lakh.
What is ‘Endorsement’?
- Endorsements are a form of advertising that uses famous personalities or celebrities who command a high degree of recognition, trust, respect, or awareness among the people.
- Advertisers and clients hope such approval, or endorsement by a celebrity, will influence buyers favourably.
- For example, Sachin Tendulkar endorsing motorcycles and biscuits can influence young men or children who look up to him as a role model.
How often do we follow influencers?
- A report by iCubesWire Survey, a digital media marketing company, suggests that a major percentage of Indians choose brands based on the suggestions by influencers.
- 34 per cent of the respondents of the survey said they buy products or services after watching the social media posts of influencers. This content can be in the form of reels on Instagram or videos on popular social media platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, among others.
Who should disclose:
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.
A material connection could include but is not limited to benefits and incentives, such as:
- Monetary or other compensation.
- Free products with or without any conditions attached, including those received unsolicited, discounts, and gifts.
- Contest and sweepstakes entries.
- Trips or hotel stays.
- Media barters.
- Coverage and awards.
- Any family, personal, or employment relationship.
Acts against misleading advertisements in India:
- The new guidelines are in alignment with the Consumer Protection Act, of 2019, which was enacted to protect consumers from unfair trade practices and deceptive advertising.
- The department of consumer affairs published Guidelines for the Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022. The criteria for valid advertisements are outlined in these guidelines, as are the responsibilities of manufacturers, service providers, advertisers, and advertising agencies. These guidelines also addressed celebrities and endorsers. It states that misleading advertising in any form, format, or medium is illegal.
- In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has guidelines for endorsements and testimonials in advertising, which also apply to social media. These guidelines require that any endorsements or testimonials be truthful and not misleading and that any material connections between the endorser and the advertiser be disclosed.
- In the UK, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) provide guidance on advertising and sponsorship across all media, including social media influencer marketing.
Unethical Aspects of Celebrity Endorsement – We had already covered this in one of our previous articles – Responsibility of Celebrity Endorsers – Find the link below.
Q. Do you think that the brand ambassadors of products should be held accountable for misleading advertisements and endorsements? Examine. (250 Words)
Ethical consumerism is the practice of making conscious & informed purchasing decisions based on a company’s social and environmental impact. It involves considering factors such as a company’s labour practices, environmental impact, and contributions to society when making a purchase.
In the context of influencer marketing, ethical consumerism relates to the choices that consumers make about which products and brands to support based on the values and practices of those brands and the influencers who promote them. Consumers may be more likely to trust and support products and brands that are endorsed by influencers who align with their own values and ethical principles.
Influencer marketing can also be considered ethical when influencers themselves are transparent about their partnerships and disclose their relationship with the brands they promote, and when brands use influencer marketing to promote sustainable, fair trade, or socially responsible products or services.