Tighter guidelines introduced for celebrity endorsements
Published: Nov 01, 2022 12:26 AM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China has introduced guidelines to further regulate commercial endorsements by celebrities, banning companies from using performers who have engaged in illegal behavior or who have lapsed morals, and requiring celebrities to fully know the companies and products they endorse.

The guidelines come after some of the chaos that has been seen in celebrity endorsements in recent years, with some celebrities having conducted illegal or false endorsement and individual companies using performers who lack moral discipline to endorse their products in pursuit of profit.

The chaos has seriously infringed upon consumers' rights and interests, damaged the market order and polluted the social atmosphere, the guidelines said.

The guidelines came into force on Monday and were jointly issued by seven Chinese government institutions: the State Administration for Market Regulation, the Cyberspace Administration, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the National Radio and Television Administration, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the China Film Administration.

According to the guidelines, companies should boycott celebrities who have lapsed morals or who have engaged in illegal behavior such as drug addiction, gambling, drunk driving, indecent assault, tax evasion and fraud.

Celebrity Kris Wu had many commercial endorsements in effect before he was forced out of the entertainment industry due to various scandals. Wu was detained on suspicion of rape after an investigation by the People's Procuratorate in Beijing's Chaoyang district in August 2021. His studio was also embroiled in a contract dispute with Chinese kitchen appliances brand Vatti, which had hired Wu as its spokesperson.

The guidelines require celebrities to fully know the companies' background and honestly endorse the products, asking companies to be responsible for the authenticity and legality of the ad content when providing ad scripts to the celebrities.

Famous stand-up comedian Li Dan was fined more than 870,000 yuan ($134,347) for an ad for women's underwear that was insulting to women, Beijing authorities announced in August in 2021. They said Li was endorsing a product that he had not used himself.

When it comes to financial product ads, the guidelines specifically noted that companies should actively and fully disclose product information and potential risks.

In July, financial products from Wukong Financial Management that were endorsed by well-known actor Hu Jun were accused of fraud by netizens.

"The guidelines are a public warning about the incidents involving celebrity endorsements in recent years. This will help to rectify the endorsement chaos as well as making celebrities realize that their cultural image is linked to public perception," said Tan Fei, a movie critic and film producer.

Tan said that celebrity endorsement is not just for product promotion, but also for exporting culture and value. "Companies and celebrities must not only pay attention to economic benefits, but also to social benefits and social responsibility."