Weighing in on the issue of celebrity brand endorsements and liabilities therein on day one of Goafest 2022, Piyush Pandey, Chairman of Global Creative Ogilvy Worldwide & Executive Chairman, Ogilvy India, contended that the buck should stop with the client – not the celebrity.
He was speaking alongside Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary (CA), Ministry of Consumer Affairs & Food Distribution, GoI, in a panel discussing consumer rights in digital India moderated by ASCI Chairman Subhash Kamath.
Singh revealed that a new set of guidelines is likely to be revealed in 10 to 15 days by the government, which includes a chapter on the responsibility of endorsers.
“If someone is saying that I don’t know anything about a car, but am endorsing a car, that is being irresponsible. They have to have reasonable information about the product, about its USPs. Celebrities have to take responsibility,” said Singh.
Offering a different point of view, Pandey observed that not every car owner knows about the nitty gritties of his or her car. “He can’t become a car mechanic overnight,” he contended,
Singh explained that the FTC of the US and EU have evolved guidelines and examples on nuances of celebrities and the extent of their responsibilities.
The bureaucrat expressed concern that in categories like edtech, celebrities are pushing kids into tuitions and other learning modules, and wondered whether that was the best solution for the country.
Misleading Ads, Acquisition Rush & Creativity
Moderator Kamath noted that in recent times, many of the complaints received by ASCI related to product and technical claims made by brands, like ‘5 Times Stronger’ and so on.
Singh revealed that in the recent past, with the emergence of new categories and inordinate focus on customer acquisition, consumer interest may have been compromised. Consumer interest remains the focus of the Consumer Affairs Ministry, he underlined.
“Last week, we issued notices to Ola and Uber,” revealed Singh, related to issues with their pricing algorithms, wherein first time users may have been charged lesser than regular users on the same route, in the quest for consumer acquisitions.
“If the first time user is being charged less, that’s not fair. If we don’t look after consumer interests, who will?” he questioned.
On the national consumer helpline, of the 4,000 calls received everyday, e-commerce related complaints have gone up from 8pc to 44pc, said Singh.
Kamath asked Pandey to comment on short form content, product-led claims and their impact on creativity. Referring to an earlier speaker Ankush Sachdeva’s (Co-Founder & CEO, Sharechat & Moj) claim that ‘ads will have to touch millions of hearts in 3 seconds’ in the future, Pandey quipped: “Nobody is going to kill creativity.”
The Padma Shri awardee added that the day someone can touch millions of hearts in 3 seconds, the person should be awarded a Padma Bhushan.