Opinion / Opinion Line

Endorsers of dubious ads answerable to law

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-18 08:39

Endorsers of dubious ads answerable to law

Taiwan television entertainer Dee Hsu grins to show the whitening effect of the Crest toothpaste in the TV commercial. [Photo/]

THE STATE ADMINISTRATION for Industry and Commerce has publicized 12 typical cases of illegal advertising, many of which involved celebrities. But instead of being held legally accountable under the new Advertising Law which came into effect in September, they have merely been given verbal warnings. A recent Beijing Times commentary explains why.

It should be noted that the revised Advertising Law specifies the legal responsibilities of celebrities who help promote false claims about products and the penalties they will receive for such endorsements.

However, these penalties do not apply if the advertisements were made before the new law was enacted.

On the other hand, even under the latest Advertising Law, public figures can only be punished should they "fully acknowledge or ought to know" that the claims they endorse are untrue.

And it is unfair to punish celebrities if the advertisements they appear in are changed after they have made their endorsements. Regrettably, the new Advertising Law does not elaborate on an endorser's obligations to ensure the veracity of the final advertisement, which to some extent explains why very few celebrities are held accountable for appearing in advertisements that make false claims.

However, there are strict legal responsibilities stemming from the "ought to know" principle for the endorsers, and a celebrity should only recommend and promote a product on the basis of provable facts.

In other words, under the new law, all endorsers, famous or not, who fail to prove that they were tricked into deceitful advertising, should receive due punishment. And they are obligated to provide solid evidence of their unawareness if they want to be exempt from liability.

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