There is no denial to the fact that the future of influencer marketing in India is scintillating. The Influencer Benchmark Report 2021 also stated that this industry is expected to grow to approximately 13.8 billion $ in 2021. Even various courts in India have stated that this one of the youngest forms of marketing is absolutely promising. With such a positive response from almost all the ends, there has been tremendous increase in influencer marketing leading to elevation of legal issues in this regard.
An anonymous Instagram user bought an expensive detoxifying drink under the influence of his favorite Instagram model who claimed that it helped her to lose weight. On using the product, rather than losing weight she gained 8Kgs of weight and developed other health ailments. This is not just the story of this user but there are many such instances where the consumer have become the victim of false claims by the influencers or ended up being misled by the advertisements which often happens in order to make the advertisement attractive.
Also, it is not just the followers who are affected, there are influencers too who become victims of malpractices by the brands. Many influencers have raised this issue that they aren’t paid as promised. In this way, there are various such legal issues arising from influencer marketing.
Hence, the regulatory bodies and advertising watchdogs have unraveled the problem and started taking various steps to regulate and protect the interest of the consumers and industry members.
Legal steps taken in India (For protecting interests of the consumers):-
1. Consumer Protection Act, 2019
On 9 August 2019 the government of India came up with a successor to the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. As compared to the previous act, certain provisions were introduced in the act which focused on misleading advertisements and endorsements by the celebrities (including social media influencers). Adding to it, this legislation also emphasizes on marketing campaigns through the influencers and targeted advertising.
According to the provisions of the act, if there is an influencer who has not informed that it is a paid promotion and he/she has intentionally lied about the product, followers can sue the influencer for such misleading advertisement. If found guilty, the influencer will have to pay as compensation upto INR 10 lakh and repeated offenders can be fined up to INR 50 lakh.
2. The draft Central Consumer Protection Authority, 2020 After introducing the Consumer Protection Act 2019, the Government of India somewhere felt that just introducing laws which regards to protection of interest of the consumer is not at all enough. Hence, the ministry of consumer affairs introduced a draft on prevention of misleading advertisement unnecessary due diligence for endorsement of advertisement to keep a watch on all kinds of advertisements and advertisers irrespective of the medium being used.
With YouTube having approximately 265 million active users in India, it became a challenge for the concerned ministry to keep a tab on the interest of the consumers as various micro influencers are marketing just for the sake of monetary benefits, ignoring the interest of the consumers. Hence, it has been made mandatory to conduct a due diligence before any endorsement or advertisement of any product.
The above listed steps taken by the government of India and various regulatory bodies clearly indicate that they don’t want to leave any stone unturned to protect the interests of the consumers. The following legal framework not just imposes penalty in case of default but responsibility and duty too.
Ultimately, for the success of these laws prescribed by the government of India, both the parties i.e., Influencers and the advertisers will have to work upon the things together to adhere with the guidelines. Written agreements should be encouraged in order to avoid ambiguity and to narrow down the scope of legal implications. Agreements should be detailed enough to cover all the things with respect to the parties.
Hence, it is vitally important for the social media influencers and the brands to ensure compliance of the above mentioned rules and regulations in order to avoid any legal liability.
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