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The Fault in Our Starry Ads: A View on Celebrity Endorsements and Law in India by Pooja Ghosh

The Author: Pooja Ghosh is a Law Student Studying at Army Institute of Law, Mohali

All that glitters is not gold. This is a phrase which was taught to every child in the moral science class. Children did get it when they read the textbooks but, after closing the book, the Television pulled the same trick on them. It allured them by using big influential pop stars and cricketers. Misleading people has become the way of world. To attract consumers, ad agencies and producers stop at nothing! They resort to puffery and bluffing. With their concerted efforts of deception, it is ultimately the consumer who suffers if the product shown in the ad does not deliver the promise or causes loss to them. It thus, becomes important to raise the question that if the product does not deliver what the TV actor or actress promise (which happens often!) then should the consumer be given the right to sue that particular personality also or should that liability only extend to the manufacturer of the product? The law in India is still struggling with the fact that the face which lured them, should it be held liable?

BECAUSE HE/SHE SAID SO…!

In India especially, it is not difficult to find motives for the increasing use of celebrities in advertisements as Indians have always been in awe of the stars of the celluloid world. Indeed, some people are seen to admire, imitate and become besotted with their favourite celebrities which forms the crux for the celebrity endorsement being quite a sought after advertisement technique. (Mc.Cutcheon.et.al 2003)[i]

Advertisements have always been redefined. In the past, radios used to announce vehemently about the pros of that new vacuum cleaner. With advancement in technology and virtual world, advertisements have become a type of testimonial. This testimonial is either supported by a common man or a much loved and talked about face. The producers of various products pay millions to such faces which have the so-called ‘mass appeal’. The use of such faces is called “celebrity endorsement” which has been witnessed to be far more successful than products endorsed by a common man. Companies involve and continue to involve celebrities as the personal traits of the celebrity draws and persuade the consumers to at least pay attention if not rush to the store immediately and buy the product. (Though, die-hard and obsessed fans have a tendency of buying even that product which might not be of much use to them!!) The power of persuasion makes it a much talked about product and hence, the product gains popularity among people. On top of it, if the celebrity endorses it vociferously and even affirms that he/she uses the same product then, the product not only draws attention but also, a whole new bunch of consumers who just buy it because that particular celebrity uses it. Hence, companies prefer to take in celebrities as they possess (apparently!) the powers of persuasion and power of exploiting the people who refer to them every minute of their lives (i.e. as reference groups). For better impact and to convey the message quickly, companies involve celebrities and continue to do so. The advertisement is flashed every other 5 minutes on different channels (be it radio/television) and the cycle of “X says so…then it might be true. I should give it a try at least!” goes on continuously. Therefore, this technique is the most popular and efficient one among advertisement makers.

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