How responsible are celebrities for the products they endorse?
Since the inception of modern marketing, celebrity endorsements have been one of the most effective ways to sell products or services. Companies hire celebrities to promote their brands, while making their products more relatable to consumers.
From James Bond actor Daniel Craig endorsing Omega watches and Aston Martin cars to Bollywood juggernaut Amitabh Bachchan being the ambassador of brands like Flipkart, top-tier international brands are mostly promoted by celebrities, including athletes and artistes.
However, it is not uncommon for celebrities to get caught up in controversy, owing to their endorsement deals.
For instance, in 2015, Indian stars Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta were sued for promoting a particular instant noodle brand, as the production of the product was banned for several months for allegedly containing lead beyond permissible levels. A court case was filed in Pune against the actors the following year.
Debates have always gone on about the degree to which celebrities should be held responsible for the actions of the brands they choose to endorse.
Even if the brands mostly act independently, without consulting the celebrities first -- to what extent do they share the liabilities of a scandal that a company might face? The recent alleged e-commerce frauds from brands like Evaly and E-orange have brought this conversation to new light.
Bangladeshi film star Nusraat Faria Mazhar is currently endorsing seven brands.
"These endorsements are usually valid from six months to two years," she said. "Although it is tough to try all of their products personally all the time, I always make sure that the brands I am endorsing do not look shady. Also, I take enough time to research on the companies before signing the agreement."
The actor added that since she is a student of law, she is always careful about the agreements.
Dhallywood superstar Shakib Khan has a different take regarding the matter. "Celebrities are in no way responsible for the company's mishaps," he says.
The actor is the face of two brands at present. "I don't go for many brands, and the ones I am associated with are reputed companies operating for decades."
He also mentioned that for the questionable actions of some companies, celebrities should not be harassed. He was offered to be the ambassador of an e-commerce company few months ago, but he declined.
"If you are in the media, you have to have the sense to make the right decision," he asserts. "Think of Alibaba and other e-commerce giants. If they deceived people, they would not grow to the extent that they did. Although celebrities introduce consumers to the products, consumers are also liable for their investments."
Popular actor Bidya Sinha Mim is currently the face of several brands.
"I always go for the brands that go with my personality and the ones that I can trust," said the former Lux Superstar. "For example, I am not just endorsing Lux because I was the winner of the show sponsored by the brand. Since childhood, I have seen my family use their products, so I trust it."
"Before signing a deal, my manager and lawyer makes sure that everything is fine with the company. I even try to use the services myself," says Mim.
She also shared that she received an endorsement offer from an e-commerce company recently, but she refused it because the company did not have a cash-on-arrival option.
Renowned actor Arifin Shuvoo is the brand ambassador of Himalaya Men's Face Wash and Hero Honda.
"These are brands I have known since childhood, and they are reliable," says Shuvoo.
Evidently, most celebrities go for brands that have longstanding reputation of being credible.
Noted actor and President of Actors Equity Bangladesh, Shahiduzzaman Selim, told The Daily Star that in his opinion, celebrities should be more careful in selecting the brands they endorse.
"As an artiste, you have to sacrifice a lot in your career to a point when people will truly respect you," he said. "One can earn fame and quick cash through shortcuts, but it will not be sustainable in the long run if they do not consider the implications of their actions."