The Indian advertising market is growing by leaps and bounds and is projected to be one of the fastest growing ad markets in the world between 2018 to 2021. The unparalleled reliance of consumers on advertising and the rise in digital advertising coupled with use of social media platforms has given way for influencer marketers or influencer marketing in India.
What is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is a tool used in digital or online marketing, wherein an Influencer through their content speak about the products or services of the advertiser on social media platforms, in such a way that the influencer can have an impact on the purchasing decisions of the customer.
Influencers are persons whose words have the capability of impacting the purchasing decisions of consumers and who have strong social media footprints. For instance, such Influencers would have several followers and a prominent presence on social media. At times the presence of such Influencers are targeted to specific products or services only. For instance, an influential interior designer may endorse products related to interior design on social media, a fashion model with strong social media presence may endorse products related to latest fashion and clothing on social media.
Considering the rampant use of social media by people of all ages, Influencer marketing has evolved as an indispensable tool of online marketing and advertising in India.
Influencer Marketing and Misleading Advertisements Draft Guidelines
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has recently released the Central Consumer Protection Authority (Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Necessary Due Diligence for Endorsement of Advertisements) (hereinafter referred to as “Draft Guidelines”).
Read more about the Draft Guidelines on Misleading Advertisements here.
The Guidelines have been drafted by the Ministry with the object to prevent false or misleading advertisements as well the due diligence to be carried out for endorsements. Thus, the Guidelines tightens the screw and suggest due diligence for endorsement of advertisements in India to mitigate instances of misleading advertisements.
6 things Influencer Marketers need to know to avoid Legal Consequences
Guideline 15 of the Draft Guidelines enumerates the guidelines regarding Honesty of statements and due diligence to be made by an endorser in relation to advertisements. In order to avoid any legal implications and consequences pertaining to misleading advertisements, Influencer Marketers on social media platforms must confirm to the following Guidelines:
- That the endorser endorsing a product or service shall take due care to ensure that all descriptions, claims and comparisons that they endorse or that are made in advertisements they appear in are capable of being objectively ascertained and are capable of substantiation.
- That an advertising advice from an advertising agency or a legal opinion from an independent legal practitioners regarding honesty of advertisements will not be considered adequate if it is found that the endorser had knowledge that the endorsement would be false, misleading or deceptive.
- That where any endorsement of a product or service is made through a testimonial or representation of opinion or preference of the endorser, the endorsement shall reflect the genuine, reasonably current opinion of the endorser, and shall be based on either adequate information about or experience with the product or service being endorsed.
- That where any endorsement of a product or service represents that the endorser uses the endorsed product, the endorser shall have been a bona fide user of it at the time the endorsement was given
- That where an advertisement represents that the endorser is an expert with respect to the endorsement message, then the endorser’s qualifications shall in fact give the endorser the expertise that he is represented as possessing with respect to the endorsement.
- That an expert endorsement shall be supported by an actual exercise of that expertise in evaluating product features or characteristics with respect to which he is an expert and which are relevant to an ordinary consumer’s use of or experience with the product.
It cannot be denied that Digital Advertising and online marketing has catalyzed the incidences of misleading advertisements in India. The ease of accessibility of social media platforms on hand held devices and a wave of social media influencers is gradually rendering the conventional modes of advertisements redundant. Social media influencers are playing a major role in influencing minds of people and there have been several instances when people being influenced by influencer marketers on social media have been a victim of misleading advertisements. Hence, in such times the formulation of Guidelines which addresses the issue of misleading advertisements by endorsers is a welcome step as it exercises a strict check on the honesty of endorsements.