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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 01 July 2022


Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 01 July 2022


Contents

  1. Home and Abroad
  2. Should endorsers be held responsible for claims in advertising?

Home and Abroad


Context

Geopolitics trumped economics at the annual summit of the world’s “most industrialised” countries, as the G-7 is known.

Relevance

GS-II: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Dimensions of The Article

  • The G-7 Summit.
  • The Discussions
  • What is Group of Seven (G7)?

The G-7 Summit

While the G-7 countries did have some economic initiatives on their agenda, including the launch of a $600 billion U.S.-led Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), commitments on fighting climate change, funding renewable energy changes, mitigating inflation and managing the continued global crisis over the COVID-19 pandemic, it was clear that most of the deliberations took aim at the twin challenges seen from Russia and China.

The Discussions

  • The 28-page communiqué alternated between outlining the challenges to the international order that emanate from Moscow’s war in Ukraine and Beijing’s “expansive maritime claims”, rights violations, and unsustainable debt creation in lower income countries.
  • The G-7 countries issued separate statements on support for Ukraine, food security and a ‘Climate Club’.
  •  In addition, the G-7 and special invitee “partner countries” issued a statement on “Resilient Democracies”, committing to free and fair elections, protecting freedom of expression, and gender empowerment.
  • The message for Russia and China was made even more pointed at the subsequent NATO Summit in Madrid, where the U.S.’s Transatlantic allies invited the U.S.’s Trans-Pacific allies to discuss security challenges.
  • Given the targeted nature of the G-7 outcomes, India had its work cut out as a balancing power. Prime Minister made it clear that it is the developing world that needs the most support, including to weather the “knock-on” effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
  • The Government sought to distance itself from the PGII, pitched as a G-7 counter to China’s BRI, and made it evident that India had only signed on to the statements on “Resilient Democracies” and a “Just Energy Transition”, and not the many statements castigating Russia and China.
  • On the global stage, the G-7 outcomes mean New Delhi will have to continue to walk a tightrope between these two blocs that are growing more polarised and inimical towards each other.
  • On the Indian stage, Mr. Modi’s G-7 commitments will be scrutinised for his pronouncements on democracy, and his written assurance that his government will protect civic society, freedoms of expression and “thought, conscience, religion or belief”, which are facing challenges within the country.

What is Group of Seven (G7)?

It is an intergovernmental organisation that was formed in 1975.The bloc meets annually to discuss issues of common interest like global economic governance, international security and energy policy. The G7 countries are the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US. All the G7 countries and India are a part of G20.

  • The G7 does not have a formal charter or a secretariat. The presidency, which rotates among member countries each year, is in charge of setting the agenda. Sherpas, ministers and envoys hammer out policy initiatives before the summit.
  • G7 announced the collective mobilization of 600 billion dollars by 2027 under Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) to deliver “game-changing” and “transparent” infrastructure projects to developing and middle-income countries.
  • Indian Prime Minister highlighted Global Initiative for LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment) campaign.
  • The goal of this campaign is to encourage an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Source – The Hindu


Should endorsers be held responsible for claims in advertising?


Context

Recently, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) notified guidelines for ‘Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022’.

Relevance

GS-II: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation.

Dimensions of the Article

  • More on News
  • Why were the new guidelines needed then?
  • What sort of ‘due diligence’ can be carried out by brand ambassadors to ensure they do not sign up to misleading advertisements?
  • Should brand ambassadors be held responsible for false claims in advertisements?
  • ASCI’s  ‘Guidelines For Influencer Advertising In Digital Media’
  • Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022
  • Conclusion

More on News

  • The guidelines, brought in with immediate effect, are applicable to all forms of advertisements.
  • While the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 does have a provision on misleading advertisements, the CCPA can impose a penalty of up to ₹10 lakh on manufacturers, advertisers and endorsers for misleading advertisements and a penalty of up to ₹50 lakh for subsequent contraventions.
  •  It can also prohibit the endorser of a misleading advertisement from making any endorsement for up to one year; for subsequent contravention, prohibition can be extended further.
  • Certain brand endorsements by celebrities happen for right reasons, where there is a fit with the brand, but often the endorsement is also for the wrong reasons.
  • In mature categories, which have high penetration, established brands that have little to differentiate, use celebrities as identifiers in form of it’s lazy marketing. When you don’t have an idea, you just take a face, sit back and believe that this is going to do the job.
  • Endorsers are service providers. They do have responsibilities given the kind of impact they have on the audience. But it’s not solely on them. They wouldn’t have the technical knowledge to verify the products.
  • The ASCI guidelines require the celebrities to reflect their genuine or current opinion.This would make them take some technical advice.
  • For a celebrity, there are people who do due diligence, so that conscious decisions are taken. But more often, get away easily with a public apology. So, a ₹10 lakh penalty is nothing if they had a deal of ₹4 crore. It should have been far more because monetary penalty is going to solve the issue.

The ASCI and the Consumer Protection Act already have a provision for ‘due diligence’ that needs to be done on the part of those who endorse products.

Why were the new guidelines needed then?

  • Section 21 of the Act states no endorser will be liable to a penalty if they have exercised due diligence to verify the veracity of the claims.
  • With the guidelines, they are obliged to do their due diligence, and to make the disclosure of their new material connection with the brand. Now, it’s come as a statutory obligation. But it’s very difficult for to verify claims this way because almost 80% of advertising lies in the grey area regarding claims and sometimes even the clients can’t verify those claims. So, maybe the guidelines will help in that aspect.

What sort of ‘due diligence’ can be carried out by brand ambassadors to ensure they do not sign up to misleading advertisements?

  • As far as technical information is concerned, they would not be equipped to do it on their own, so it will be something which they will have to outsource it to the brand to submit certain reports and get them verified, or to ASCI which has its own team of experts to carry out these exercises.
  • The second is in terms of the experience with the products and goods. Nowadays, there is a liability perspective, i.e., the brands require endorsers to give an undertaking that they have utilised products and affirm what they are endorsing.
  • Celebrities will have to be more vigilant and responsible while endorsing products and services.

Should brand ambassadors be held responsible for false claims in advertisements?

They should be held responsible and there shouldn’t just be a monetary punishment for that. The Act already provides for sufficient penalty. Of course, celebrities need to take some responsibility. They cannot shrug off responsibility.

ASCI’s  ‘Guidelines For Influencer Advertising In Digital Media’

  • The Guidelines seek to define an influencer as “someone having access to an audience and power to affect such audiences”. It also identifies ‘virtual influencers’ as fictional computer generated ‘people’ or avatars.
  • The Guidelines affix responsibility of the disclosure and of the content of the posts & adherence to the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation of Advertising Content in India.
  • Influencers have also been advised to undertake due diligence before engaging in promotional advertisements.

Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022

  • The guidelines seek to ensure that consumers are not being fooled with unsubstantiated claims, exaggerated promises, misinformation and false claims. Such advertisements violates various rights of consumers such as right to be informed, right to choose and right to be safeguarded against potentially unsafe products and services.
  • The present guidelines define “bait advertisement”, “surrogate advertisement” and clearly provides what constitutes as “free claim advertisements”. CCPA is authorised to impose monetary penalty.

Conclusion

A misleading advertisement defined under the statute (Section 2), includes there should be no false description or false guarantee given, and it shouldn’t constitute an unfair trade practice. There’s no way to determine whether a claim is misleading or not. You can’t really determine or measure whether a certain cement gives more life than the other. Of course, there has to be proof, but then if it’s in the grey zone, you really can’t prove it. Hence the guidelines are a welcome step but the sector being vague, a thorough understanding is needed before due implementation.

Source – The Hindu


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