Friday, 21 October 2016

Endorsements: The Fame Game

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The Maggi imbroglio had everyone (including the stars recommending it) twisted up just like the famous noodles. With many hunting for cover from the media glare and public ire, defenses were up and statements were plenty. But the common man remained puzzled. After the clean chit, Maggi came back with a bang to claim its rightful space. This time, with common people and common stories. No more stars. With new flavors, Maggi is trying to put its past behind it. And everyone has learnt a lesson, or two:

What is tasty could be deadly, and

What is affordable and promoted by celebrities is not necessarily healthy.

With a vast undiscerning population and low literacy levels, product makers are quick to make a fast buck at the cost of innocent lives. The Maggi episode reinstated the need to re-look into our laws and fix responsibility. From a reactionary regime, we are gradually moving over to a proactive protectionist regime. The need of the hour is a law that protects. But how do we protect the consumers before they are hurt? Isn’t it important that our product quality should be supreme and product liability is definitely fixed?

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Celebrities with their star power, fan following and blinding influence can sway the public and their choices. In a country where cricket is religion, the Gods have to be careful with what they use, eat, apply- on screen. The aftermath of the Rio Olympics is most decidedly the gold rush of endorsements. With brands queuing up to sign up their favorite medalists, the games have just begun. From hair gels to shoe polish, we want our sportspersons to vouch for everything.

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The proposed Consumer Protection Bill holds enough ammunition to rock the boat for these celebrity endorsers. Celebrities are cautious of the brands they sign up, aware that they could be held liable for misleading advertisements. Choosing a perfect brand to endorse shall prove to be atough job. Only after adequate research and due diligence should the celebrity sign the dotted line. It would augur well for them to pick a brand which they would use in real life. A little bit of study into what the product is and whether the claims made are real and supported by genuine laboratory results should save the day in case of legal proceedings. It is never too late for these popular endorsers to practice due diligence. The Fame Game is risky and a wrong endorsement will prove costly. When a billion plus eyes watch you on screen, your words become the gospel truth. For sportspersons who come from humble backgrounds, legal nitty-gritties are understandably difficult to navigate. Nevertheless, contractual obligations and branding assignments should be personally studied before execution.

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