China’s National People’s Congress has drafted a new law at the latter part of last year called “truth in advertising”. This law would protect the public consumers from bad products with low quality, while at the same time, it would also impose a big sense of responsibility on the celebrities endorsing them. If ever a product is found to have ill and grievous effects or does not reach its claimed expectations, then the celebrity endorsing it would be held liable and he/she would lose the endorsement deal. The involved celebrity would also be fined twice the amount of what he/she was originally paid for to endorse the product in question. Likewise, the company of the said bad product would also be held responsible and would be dealt with accordingly and just as severely.
This is in response to the growing numbers of bad products coming out of China that are being actively endorsed by many popular celebrities. One example is the now infamous Sanlu milk powder, the melamine-tainted milk that caused kidney disease and kidney failures among 300,000 children and killed 6 infants back in 2008. The milk was actively endorsed then by famous television drama actress Deng Jie, who even firmly swore that Sanlu products were safe and trustworthy. Another bad product that was endorsed by famous celebrities was the diet pill Qumei. Both Fan Bingbing and Gong Li endorsed the pill which later on was discovered to increase the risk of heart disease among its users. Jackie Chan also once endorsed a shampoo which he claimed was chemical-free, only to be found out later that it has carcinogenic ingredients.
On a less serious note, netizens are also ridiculing male celebrities who are endorsing intimate female products. The current primary target for the snide comments is Fahrenheit’s Jiro Wang who was reportedly paid NTD$10 million to endorse Freemore sanitary napkins for two years, starting in 2013. Other male celebrities who used to endorse this brand of sanitary napkins before were Show Luo and Chen Bolin. Jiro said that he knows a lot about the product since his girlfriend and female relatives use them a lot. He even said proudly that he is not ashamed to buy the product himself for his girlfriend’s use. Oh please, as if having his girlfriend and female relatives use the said sanitary pads already makes him the guru of all feminine napkins. While I do accept that Jiro does know the product, I am 101% sure he could never attest nor justify the effectiveness of the said product as much as a female could.
There are many products out there in China and its not easy for a regular consumer to decide which one to use. But these products can easily get into the hands of the consumers when famous celebrities endorse them. That’s why product companies never think twice in offering famous celebrities lucrative contracts just to endorse their products. A mere 10 million is nothing compared to the 10 billion worth of revenues in return, as what the Sanlu milk product gained before the melamine-tainted milk scandal broke out.
This made me think that some celebrities never really look into the products they are endorsing, much less use them. They only agree to endorse them if the price is right, though endorsing them doesn’t mean that they would also start using them. Hypocrisy should be the more apt term for this. Some celebrities are proudly endorsing certain products, but are they actually using them for real? Or do they just give away the free samples that these companies give them for their supposed use? It makes you think, right? And why won’t these celebrities accept every endorsement offer out there when it’s their primary bread and butter. A celebrity can earn without sweat through his/her product endorsements alone, even much more than what he/she could earn through filming movies and TV dramas. That’s why some celebrities tend to saturate themselves in the public eye by endorsing so many products left and right, from textiles to snacks to feminine wash and diet pills.
Once this law becomes official, this would require the celebrities to actually use the products first on themselves before they start endorsing them to the public. While this can hurt the pockets of some celebrities big time, this is actually very beneficial for the public consumers. Let’s face it, most people buy products not because they are really good but rather because their favorite celebrity is endorsing them or a famous celebrity claims to be using them. It’s that kind of mentality that these product companies prey upon. With this law, celebrities would now be forced to really look into the products before endorsing them. I mean, just who among the celebrities out there in their right mind would blindly use a product that they aren’t even sure about? Like for example, will an actress actually use a new anti-aging cream whose long term effects isn’t proven yet? Or will she even dare to feed her baby with a new infant formula which doesn’t have a good record yet when it comes to safety? If ever this law becomes final, celebrities who have long used endorsing products as their primary source of living would suffer greatly. Tough.
On the other hand, if ever this law is passed, then Jiro Wang would have no choice but to lose his 10 million-contract with Freemore. If he can’t afford to let go of that lucrative contract, then he better start using the sanitary napkins himself just so he can continue endorsing the said product. Yea, that’ll be the day.
This new advertising law is expected to be approved anytime this year. Celebrities must understand that while they do benefit a lot from all of their endorsement deals, they also have a big responsibility to the consumers who trust them enough to use the products that they endorse.