While the Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC) is mulling over holding celebrities responsible for the products they endorse, Sandalwood seems to be unperturbed. And going by what the celebrities have to say, easy money is never unwelcome. “Compared to a film, the money made from an advertisement vis-a-vis the effort you put in, is much smarter,” says a trade pundit.
Puneeth Rajkumar, who is the brand ambassador for F-Square Clothing, Malabar Gold, Manappuram, Muthoot Finance, state-owned Karnataka Milk Federation and who was chosen to be ambassador for the Election Commission to increase polling rates during Karnataka Assembly elections in 2013, states that he does an extra bit of ‘research’ about the company before he endorses it. “I make sure to check the history of the brand which I endorse. Though, I personally feel that actors should not be pulled for misleading ads,” he says.
Actor Ramesh Aravind, who has done only a couple of ads is of a similar opinion. He says, “As per the rule book, you can’t pull a celebrity for misleading ads.”
Actresses Ragini Dwivedi who endorses a few products says, “I would always support a product that I believe in. Today, I endorse Nandini Milk because the milk comes directly from dairy farmers. I make sure to endorse the right product in the interest of the public.”
Y G Muralidharan of Consumer Rights Education and Awareness Trust (CREATE) is of the opinion that the entire chain including the government should be made accountable. “As for celebrities being liable for the product they endorse; then everybody who advertise a product, be it in print or electronic media, should be responsible. When the government controlled media (Doordarshan) itself carries some advertisement without even having any knowledge about the product, making the endorsers accountable will definitely not work,” he says.
According to Harish Bijoor, a brand consultant, in the end the consumer is the important entity who has to be protected. “I believe that in the eco-system of brand endorsement, there is the marketeer, the advertiser and the brand endorser. I think all three must exhibit a great degree of restrain and responsibility. Entertainment and commerce are two different things,” he says.
Prasanth Sambargi, a businessman, who has been associated with a few actors like Sudeep, Upendra and Puneeth, states that while B-Town celebrities earn in crores for an ad, Sandalwood actors get somewhere between `5 lakh to `25 lakh for an ad and for a tenure, depending on the brand, as low as one year to 3 years. “There are many tricky issues within the existing system,” he says.
Sandalwood loves to endorse
Kicha Sudeep has been picked by the Joy Alukkas. Shivarajkumar endorses Kalyan Jewellers; Upendra and Darshan have been ambassadors for UB and Khodays respectively. Diganth is an ambassador for Joy Alukkas as well as Lunar Slippers. Actresses Ramya, Ragini Dwivedi, Radhika Pandit, Pooja Gandhi have been endorsing food products and hair oils.