Ironically, as man has become more intelligent, he is becoming more and more dependent on influencers in different aspects of life. Nowhere is the role of influencers more prominent than in the world of endorsements influence induces direct purchase decisions. Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has, thankfully, come up with guidelines for the sake of transparency and fair play in influencer marketing.
According to the guidelines, the connection between a company and an influencer should be prominently displayed for a time that is easy to comprehend. The language should be easily understandable to the consumer and in a video it should stay for at least 3 seconds.
Influencers have been advised to review and satisfy themselves so that the advertiser can substantiate the claims made in a particular advertisement.
As consumption of digital media increases, the distinction between content and promotional advertisements is blurring. But in order to make better purchase decisions consumers must have the right to know which content has been paid for by companies/brands. And the connection between the company and influencer may not only be monetary.
Significantly, the spirit of the guidelines pervades more fields that traditional marketing. In this country we have seen political leaders appearing on the platforms of different services that have duped the common people of the country with impunity. The ASCI guidelines need to be communicated across different sections of society so that none capitalises on the gullibility of the common people.
Unfortunately, ASCI is a self-regulated body and does not have legal teeth. If advertisers and influencers violate the guidelines, there is little that can be done to compel them to obey it. But whether good sense, sans the red eyes of the law, finds acceptance is the mark of any civilised society. We all have to pass this test.
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