The Department of Consumer Affairs, which falls under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, has recently published a set of guidelines called “Endorsements Know-hows!” specifically targeting celebrities, influencers, and virtual influencers who promote products or services on social media platforms. The primary objective of these guidelines is to ensure that endorsers are not misleading their followers and are following the Consumer Protection Act and related rules and regulations.
To ensure clear communication, the guidelines stipulate that endorsements should be made using simple, easy-to-understand language, and endorsers should not promote any product or service without personally experiencing it or conducting due diligence. The Department has observed that there is confusion among celebrities and influencers regarding the appropriate disclosure word for different types of collaborations. Therefore, the guidelines specify that for paid or barter brand endorsements, endorsers can use the terms “advertisement,” “ad,” “sponsored,” “collaboration,” or “partnership,” as long as they are prominently indicated with a hashtag or headline text.
The guidelines further state that endorsers who have a large following and can influence their audience’s purchasing decisions or opinions should disclose any paid endorsements. Disclosures must be clear, prominent, and hard to miss, and should not be mixed with a group of hashtags or links. For endorsements in a picture, disclosures should be superimposed over the image, while for endorsements in videos or live streams, disclosures must be made in both audio and video formats and displayed continuously and prominently throughout the entire stream.
The guidelines also advise celebrities and influencers to thoroughly review and ensure that the claims made by advertisers are substantiated, and that they should have personally used or experienced the product or service they are endorsing.
Overall, these guidelines seek to promote ethical and transparent practices in advertising and endorsements on social media platforms.