Aakriti BansalBrand Marketing Professional, Management Student
For decades, brands have advertised their products in ways that delude and mislead the customers. Either it is the picture that is being portrayed or it is the one portraying the image that the customers fall prey to.
The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 that came into force on Monday, 20 July, 2020 is ‘an Act to provide for protection of the interests of consumers and for the said purpose, to establish authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers’ disputes and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto’.
Along with establishing a new regulatory body ‘Central Consumer Protection Authority’, the Act mandates brands, sellers and aggregators like Amazon etc. to mention the country where the product has been manufactured or assembled.
However, the Act, for the first time, defines the definition to misleading adverts. It covers false description and guarantee of a product or services. It also covers information that was deliberately concealed from the consumer. And now the Act fixes liability on the endorsers too, considering that there have been numerous instances in the recent past where consumers have fallen prey to unfair trade practices under the influence of celebrities acting as brand ambassadors. Going forward, the endorser needs to take the onus, and exercise due diligence, to verify the veracity of the claims made in the advertisement to refute liability claims.
The Central Authority shall impose, in respect of any false or misleading advertisement, by a manufacturer or an endorser, a penalty which may extend to fifty lakh rupees. Also, the authority might even go to a point wherein they prohibit the endorser of a false or misleading advertisement from making endorsement of any product or service for a period which may extend to one year.
The IIHB Consumer Protection Act Report further goes on to explain the implications for the endorser (celebrity):
- Need for increased due-diligence before a celebrity takes on an endorsement (product details/product quality/quality compliance), going forward. Ignorance will no longer be an excuse.
- Celebrities will need to make higher indemnity provisions in the endorsement contracts so as to mitigate any future liability.
- This may necessarily lead to increased prices for celebrity endorsement – higher fees as risks associated with the endorsement have now gone up manifolds.
The Act is an earnest attempt by the authorities to protect the rights of a consumer not just after the purchase of a product but before it as well. By endowing the responsibility of the fair depiction of the product being sold on the brand, agencies and endorsers, the Act tries to hint towards the social responsibility that these entities hold and to maintain the stature of the same.
Kangana Ranaut, Indian Actress, refusing to endorse a fairness cream is an ultimate example of how celebrities can protect the rights of his/her fans. And let us not forget how Padma Vibhushan Amitabh Bachchan helped in eradicating Polio from India. The reach, following and influence that celebrities exercise over those following them can assist in promoting a better social cause, and if not a cause at least the right products.
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