Last year, when Maggi noodles went off the shelves after the product came under the scanner with regards to its quality, Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit Nene and Preity Zinta were criticised for endorsing it.
In 2012, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) sent a notice to Govinda for endorsing an Ayurvedic oil, which claimed to cure body aches and pains.
Now, the issue of celebrity responsibility when it comes to endorsing products has come up once again. Earlier this week, a parliamentary committee recommended changes in the Consumer Protection Act, and also suggested penalizing celebrity brand ambassadors for being part of misleading advertisements. Bollywood and the ad world, however, don’t agree with this recommendation. “It’s ridiculous to hold a celebrity responsible. For instance, if a question is raised on Maggi, then all the parties who made money by carrying its ads, should be held responsible too. Why target only a celeb?” asks adman and film-maker R Balki.
Actors feel that they don’t have the required expertise to figure out the technical details of the products they endorse. “There is only limited knowledge that we have of everything. For instance, I cannot be an expert on how a car drives, but yes, you check the company, its experience and you go by that (sic),” said Shah Rukh Khan at an event.
In fact, Balki feels that to avoid such issues, a body to monitor the process of making advertisements should be set up. “Let’s create a body that scrutinises all the claims [of a product] and the ad, and then takes the decision to green light the ad or not,” he says.
Read:Celebrity ad fever
R Balki, adman and film-maker
I think most celebrities are very responsible. They do ask questions [before signing a brand]. It (holding celebrities responsible) is not legally tenable. How do you expect celebrities to be an expert in everything they endorse? There are already required checks and balances in place.
Prahlad Kakkar, ad guru
This is a classic example of shooting the messenger. Celebrities have no responsibility when it comes to manufacturing the brand. Yes, they have to be morally responsible, but they can’t be legally sued. Also, what about the government and the departments that have given the licences to these brands?
Atul Kasbekar, celebrity manager and producer
I can’t believe there is a proposal like this. I think it’s about finding a soft target. It will then give mileage to whoever has initiated the whole thing. Celebrities obviously have certain responsibilities, since they are role models. But, if there’s a problem with a product down the line, they can’t be held responsible for it. Even recently, it was bizarre to go after someone who was endorsing Maggi. How are they responsible for quality control?
Shah Rukh Khan, actor
While celebs have the responsibility of checking and cross-checking, their responsibility is limited because there are institutions and checking points to check things long before the actor comes into the picture. So, if I see a product with the ISI mark, I assume it has been checked by the authorities.
Prachi Desai, actor
Celebrity endorsements are for establishing credibility as well as creating visibility. So, when celebs get paid the amount they get paid to endorse products, the least they can do is be responsible and verify the product, the brand and the people behind it.
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