Request to formulate a specified “Code of Conduct” for Brand Ambassadors

Dear Smt. Smriti Ji,

Re: Request to formulate a specified “Code of Conduct” for Brand Ambassadors with stringent penal provisions against irresponsible celebrity endorsements to protect Consumers

Our Country has a consumer driven economy and as such is considered as a ” Bazar” by the big Corporate Houses & MNCs and in their motive of earning huge money, they do not hesitate to even misled the Consumers by their Advertisement Campaign to the extent of having irresponsible celebrity endorsement which not only affect the mindset of the Consumers but even tarnish deep religious and socio-cultural connotations.

Since past few years, the trend of celebrity endorsement has gain a momentum in the Country and we have come across several advertisements where tall claims were made by the Brand Ambassadors about the product they endorsed but in reality, the quality & standard of the said product was found much lower than the claims.

The recent advertisement by Film Star Sunny Leone is a hoarding where a condom manufacturing company has tried to ride piggy back on the festive sentiment of Navratri to sell its product. What is offensive about the advertisement is that it brazenly uses double meanings and innuendos with commercial gains in mind, completely disregarding any sensitivity to the social and cultural fabric without caring for the consequences of such an action on impressionable young minds and at a time when religious fervour is at a high.

The larger question which needs to be answered is why are companies and celebrities who resort to titillating and misleading information allowed to get away with impunity? Should there not be any law/guidelines or atleast a legal framework which could make them accountable for their actions.

Celebrities from Amitabh Bachchan to Madhuri Dixit have in the past courted controversy over seemingly misleading or socially responsible endorsements, with the Maggi crisis perhaps being the most debated controversy relating to celebrity endorsements. Revered by millions, Bachchan has endorsed Pepsi in the past, an aerated drink which many experts have decried as detrimental to public health. Though the actor does not now endorse Pepsi, yet the damage has been done with millions of his fans taking to the drink, thanks to the icon’s endorsement of the fizzy drink, a deal which involved a substantial sum of money. It is more worst that celebrities endorsing product might not be using the same and still promoting the product encouraging the consumers to buy the same.

It’s in the light of the above, that we urge you to formulate a specified & binding “Code of Conduct” for the Brand Ambassadors which should have stringent penal provisions against misleading information and advertisements by corporate entities as also harsh penal deterrence against celebrities who abdicate their responsibility to society and propagate misleading information and falsehoods. Held in high esteem by ‘fans’ all over, its incumbent on these celebrities to carefully select platforms, products and messages that they choose to endorse. Given the fact that their each action is widely emulated and each word is taken to be the gospel truth by millions, its important that there should be a legal framework in place. Moreover, legislations like the Consumer Protection Act, which is pending before the Parliament must be passed in its next session and which should have the capacity to rein in irresponsible and errant celebrities whose sole purpose is to chase money with complete disregard for the larger social damage that their actions could be causing.

In the light of above, may we request you to please take a considered view of the same . However, a delegation of the CAIT wish to call upon your good self to discuss the critical issue in person. We trust that it will have your kind attention and we look forward for your valued response.

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