“Recommended by well-known movie stars”, “an investment and wealth management platform used by celebrities”… For some time, many celebrity endorsements “rollover” incidents have attracted attention, involving consumption, investment and many other fields. Faced with consumer rights protection and social suspicion, celebrities who paid hundreds of thousands or even tens of millions of yuan for their speeches responded: I am extremely sorry, have terminated the contract, urged to resolve, and not take this as an example… Although the endorsement star was caught in a huge public controversy at the time, eventually It’s often nothing. Some celebrities use titles such as “experience officer” to evade the risk of endorsements to facilitate “sweeping the pot” at critical moments.
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Industry experts said that supervision of celebrity endorsements should be strengthened, laws should be improved, and law enforcement should be strengthened.
Celebrity endorsements frequently “turn over” and respond with an apology
In August last year, Mr. Cheng from Shiyan City, Hubei wanted to join a milk tea chain store. “During the field visit, the wall in the office area of the headquarters company was filled with advertisements of spokespersons, which made people feel that this brand was’bundled sales’ with spokespersons.”
Mr. Cheng told reporters that at the time, the sales staff introduced that the brand was a derivative IP of a certain satellite TV evergreen variety show, and the brand spokesperson was a well-known host who hosted the show all year round. Manager Zhou, who is in charge of the reception, said that starting from September, the spokesperson will go to flagship stores in major cities to be the store manager for one day every month. “It is impossible for the brand to fail.”
“It shouldn’t be bad to have such a well-known celebrity endorsement.” With this idea, Mr. Cheng invested more than 200,000 yuan. However, it was later discovered that the company’s promises of investing 10 million yuan in brand marketing and brand promotion in variety shows have never been fulfilled, and new product formulas have been delayed. The franchisees chose to defend their rights, but found that the company had been included in the list of business exceptions.
After the incident appeared on the hot search on Weibo, the star posted a response on his personal Weibo, saying that he had terminated the contract with the brand as early as June this year.
In recent years, celebrity endorsements that have frequently “turned over” include suspected false propaganda, quality-problem daily necessities, catering brands suspected of scamming after receiving an initial fee, and even explosive wealth management platforms involving hundreds of millions of dollars… …
At the end of April this year, the famous online celebrity bird’s nest brand “Xiaoxianzhu” endorsed by the famous movie star, promoted instant bird’s nest raw materials, dried bird’s nest content, commodity origin and other 10 indicators that did not match the real situation, and was fined 200,000 yuan by the relevant departments.
In February of this year, the well-known host was brought to court by investors over a dispute over compensation for property damage. In 2018, the host recorded multiple video advertisements for the online investment platform “Wanglibao” for publicity. In 2019, “Wang Libao” exploded. As of the investigation, the accumulated transaction amount of “Wang Libao” was as high as 25.97 billion yuan, and the loan balance was 3.03 billion yuan, affecting more than 40,000 lenders.
Since 2014, there have been more than ten incidents of thunderstorms on Internet investment and wealth management platforms endorsed by celebrities, among which the amount of thunderstorms in “Internet Credit and Wealth Management” has reached 75 billion yuan.
In addition, there are brand franchise suspected of fraud. In May of this year, the milk tea brand “Chazhilan” endorsed by the famous actress was suspected of fraud. According to the police announcement, the company used fake milk tea brands to attract franchisees, used false publicity to promote franchise services, and waited for opportunities to implement contract fraud. The amount involved was as high as 700 million yuan.
The reporter found that after the endorsement product had a problem, the celebrity responded exactly the same: a “termination” or “apology” statement. After “Cha Zhilan” was investigated by the Shanghai Economic Investigation Police for alleged fraud, the endorsement star studio issued a statement stating that it had terminated the contract with the brand and apologized to consumers and franchisees.
Endorsement benefits are great, and the cost of “rolling over” is not high and is rarely fined
According to the Advertising Law, if false advertising of goods or services related to consumers’ lives and health causes harm to consumers, the advertising spokesperson shall bear joint and several liability with the advertiser. If false advertising of other goods or services causes harm to consumers, and the advertising spokesperson knows or should know that the advertising is false and still recommends or proves it, he shall be jointly and severally liable with the advertiser.
The Advertising Law also stipulates that advertising spokespersons shall not recommend or certify unused products or unreceived services. If there is a violation, the illegal income may be confiscated by the administrative department for industry and commerce, and the illegal income may be more than one time and two times less than the illegal income. fine. If you know or should know that the advertisement is false and still recommends or proves the product or service in the advertisement, the punishment is the same as above.
Legal experts said that according to the Advertising Law, there are problems with products or services endorsed by celebrities. Depending on the specific circumstances, some of them need to be held responsible. However, the reporter’s investigation found that although many celebrity endorsements “rolled over”, not many were punished.
In the many celebrity endorsement controversies this year, one case was publicly investigated and was subject to administrative punishment: Beijing’s Haidian District Market Supervision and Administration Bureau believed that a male variety star used his own popularity to recommend women’s underwear in an advertisement. After using the product and publishing copies that insult the dignity of women in the advertising copy, he was punished with a cumulative fine of more than 870,000 yuan.
More “rollover” stars, except for being caught in a public opinion turmoil at that time, most of them have not been substantively punished. For example, in August last year, a female celebrity was sued for endorsing a “Zhongjin” investment and wealth management product. The Second Intermediate People’s Court of Shanghai held that it was difficult to determine that the actress knew or should have known that the content of the advertisement was false, and there was no evidence to prove that she was involved in the crime of fundraising fraud. Therefore, it did not support an investment in the “Zhongjin Department” fundraising fraud case. Claim for compensation.
Wang Yan, an associate researcher at the Institute of Law of the Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences, said: “The joint liability relationship between celebrities and endorsement products is difficult to determine, such as how to determine whether the obligation of pre-review has been fulfilled, and whether there is a subjective intention to choose endorsements while knowing that there is false propaganda. .”
Zhu Shurong, a lawyer at Beijing Anli (Tianjin) Law Firm, said that for celebrities, the risk of endorsement is actually very small. “The benefits of endorsements are too high. A good product will bring both fame and fortune. If the product has a problem, the image will only be damaged, and the benefits won will not be affected.”
Some celebrities use titles such as “experience officer” to avoid risks, and supervision should be strengthened and law enforcement should be strengthened
It is worth noting that, due to repeated endorsement incidents, some celebrities have adopted various methods to avoid risks. Some insiders told reporters that in addition to endorsements, some celebrities would choose titles such as “experience officer” and “ambassador”, or even set no titles, only appearing in advertising shooting.
“The celebrity does not appear directly as a spokesperson. Once the product is suspected of violations of regulations and laws, it is easier for the celebrity to avoid possible joint and several liability.” Zhu Shurong said.
For example, in the “Net Libao” mine explosion incident, in the face of investors’ demands for rights protection, the celebrity stated in a statement that he had not signed an endorsement contract with the platform party, but had only conducted a short-term cooperation with advertising during filming.
Some experts said that celebrity endorsements have repeatedly “rolled over”, and there is a problem of difficulty in law enforcement. However, after the celebrity endorses the “rollover”, the responsibility cannot be cleared away with a single sentence of “sorry”.
In January of this year, Beijing Chaoyang District Financial Dispute Mediation Center issued an announcement, which clearly requires the advertising spokespersons of P2P online lending institutions to cooperate in the implementation of risk resolution responsibilities.
The announcement pointed out that after receiving endorsement invitations from some online lending platforms, entertainers and public figures have a negative impact on the platform’s use of its influence to attract investors to buy illegal financial products without reasonable review and false publicity. Inescapable responsibility.
In April, the Consumer Rights Protection Bureau of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission issued the second phase of risk warning for 2021, clearly reminding that spokespersons and financial product suppliers should perform their responsibilities in compliance with laws and regulations. The endorsement of celebrities and other public figures shall abide by the Advertising Law and other laws and regulations. Before accepting endorsements, it should be checked whether the endorsement agency has legal qualifications, and whether the endorsed products and services are true in content and meet regulatory requirements.
Zhu Shurong suggested that the supervision of celebrity endorsements should be strengthened and law enforcement should be strengthened. “According to existing laws, substantive penalties are imposed on celebrities who have problems with modern dialects.” At the same time, the current advertising law will supplement and improve the parts of the current advertising law that are difficult to prove that celebrity endorsements are illegal and illegal. When it comes to the obligation to review products and corporate qualifications, try the products in person, leave video evidence, etc.”
Wang Yan said that celebrities should strengthen self-discipline, not just recommend products or services they don’t understand for high endorsement fees, but should enhance their sense of social responsibility and carefully choose endorsement products. When consumers choose products, especially financial consumption or brand investment, they need to discern carefully, recognize that celebrity endorsements are the essence of commercial behavior, and avoid being deceived.
Xinhua News Agency “Xinhua Viewpoint” reporters Sister Liang and Siyuan Yin