Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Why celebrities have to be responsible while endorsing products/services? (like Maggi, Amirta institute etc.)

The recent controversy over Maggi had sparked off a debate on whether or not celebrities are responsible for the product they endorse.

Here is my 2 cents on this issue. My view is that celebrities are responsible and here is why.

1) "Hey I like Shaktimaan - so let me jump off this roof wearing a costume and try to fly"

Dont you think Shaktimaan should warn kids not to try and do what he is doing? Why are there disclaimers that say "these stunts are performed by professionals".

2) Even Lord Krishna in the Gita has clearly said in Chapter 3 verse 21 that "However a great personality conducts himself so also will common men follow"

In Spiderman a famous dialogue comes "With great Power comes great Responsibility"

3) "I am a railway minister, so how am I responsible for an accident because of a foreman"? Did Lal Bahadur Shastri think in this manner?

What would you say if BP CEO said "Hey, someone else goofed up and hence the gulf oil spill happened. Why blame me?"

4) How about you say the following before an ad

"Main Amitabh Bachchan bol raha hoon. I am not responsible for this products quality since I cannot check it. I Am just here for the Ad and to make money. So buy it at your own risk"

Do you think anyone will buy it if he said so?

5) Or how would it look like if Rajnikanth says "Guys, I love smoking. So please smoke" Is he correct to say so?

I agree that the celebrities are not responsible for every packet that comes out of every facility and I also agree that educational institutions may not have a 100% placements and celebrities cant be blamed for it. I fully understand all that and I am not dumb. It is physically impossible for celebrities to just check everything prior to endorsement.

However can these celebrities not do the following at least

Prior to endorsing:
a) Independently check if the product/service is what it says it is
b) If it is an institute can you not spend 1 hour driving down to the institute campus to see if really it is like a "Dubai 5 star hotel" before you tell others?
c) If it is a hospital - will you get yourself admitted there? have you checked to see what the general perception is
d) Check all of their certifications?
e) Ensure you are not legally bound to them if something wrong is found downstream
f) Use the product yourself for a period of time and see if you like it?
g) Is it ethical to market this product?
h) If you cannot do all of the above, then at the very least negotiate a disclaimer with them (and in the advertisement state that you are not responsible for the product/service that you are endorsing

Post endorsing:
1) If there is a flaw in the product/service identified terminate your contract
2) Stop all advertisements in the product
3) Issue an apology in social media or twitter
4) Inform the public on what basis you had originally selected to endorse it and why you have changed your stance

Have you ever seen a street performance of a monkey trainer? The monkey does a lot of self degrading stuff just for a peanut that the trainer will offer.

I ask the the celebrities if they are just working for the peanuts or do they have a sense of their own?

Something to think about.

If you are a general public, then you are also responsible for what you buy. So please do your independent assessment and stop following these film stars as though they are Gods. They are after all humans and have limitations.

Finally, how responsible are each of the parties in this whole game?
1) The manufacturer or provider of service is of course the most culpable
2) The regulator who has given the licence to operate is the next most culpable
3) The authorities and system that enables all of these to happen is the next most culpable
4) They person who uses the product/service without research is in my view the next
5) The person who endorses without due research and due diligence, and refuses to retract if the prouduct is found problematic, although the least culpable IS STILL CULPABLE