It’s a celeb sin to not declare social media plugs! Here’s why
When scrolling down your social media feed, you must’ve come across a post by your favourite celebrity raving about a product/service they love. Well, it’s not a hidden secret that it’s some of it is paid for but how often do the stars declare so? A recent article by British tabloid Daily Mail highlighted how UK celebrities such as model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, pop stars Rita Ora and Ellie Goulding were lambasted and called out for endorsing products without declaring that they were paid to.
The Daily Mail also reported that an investigation was conducted by Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) when concerns were raised by social media users that celebrities were not openly declaring that they were paid or rewarded to endorse goods and services. The stars who were named and shamed (and the ones who weren’t) in the investigation, which started last year in August, have pledged to be transparent going forward, from now on.
And this raises the question that back home, would our celebrities disclose if they are getting paid to endorse? “One should openly declare if they are getting paid to endorse a good or a service. Just look at the documentary made about the disaster that was Fyre Festival. That music festival was sold because few supermodels were paid to endorse it on their Instagram. Also, I think by being open, you gain trust of your followers”, says Karishma Kotak, TV presenter and a model.
Some celebrities think that subtle plug-ins by tagging the brand in an Instagram post is equivalent to a declaration. “No, all social media influencers need to openly declare that they are paid for it. By cleverly tagging, it won’t work”, says adman Prahlad Kakkar.
It isn’t just about having a transparent social media policy; it’s also about owning up to the responsibility that comes with being a social media influencer. “The problem is the lack of accountability and responsibility. Once, celebrities and social media influencers are paid, they don’t care about the consequences. Just look at supermodels Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid, who are facing possible subpoenas over Fyre Festival. If you are getting paid to endorse anything then say it and be ready to take responsibility if something goes wrong”, says rapper Raftaar.
And what’s the law on celebrity advertising? “By concealing paid partnerships or paid advertisements on social media, celebrities in a sense abuse the trust their followers repose in them; not to mention that they are also attempting to evade the law, which casts a duty on them in the form of responsible advertising (as per the ASCI guidelines for celebrities in advertising, 2017). Full disclosure should be the norm in advertising as it is in the ultimate interest of the consumer”, says Arnav Narain, lawyer.
Unfortunately, the problem with implementing of the law is that jurisdiction of social media is a grey area, unlike TV, print or radio.