Endorsement Know – Hows for Health and Wellness Influencers
Updated: Nov 6
Are you thinking about collaborating with social media influencers to sell your health and wellness goods or services?
Social media has been a part of our lives since for over a decade now and has, along with the aid of celebrities and influencers, managed to touch and impact various aspects of our lives including our choices, preferences and likings.
Recently, the Department of Consumer Affairs released the “Additional Influencer Guidelines” (“Guidelines”), with the objective to regulate the engagement of celebrities, influencers and virtual influencers in endorsements of health and wellness products and services. The scope of the Guidelines extends to include medical practitioners, health and wellness experts, whether certified or uncertified. These Guidelines come in the wake of the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022 (“Misleading Advertisements Guidelines”)and are to be read as an extension of the Misleading Advertisements Guidelines.
The Guidelines mandate that the following must be undertaken before promoting health and wellness goods or services or making any health claim:
1. Certified medical practitioners and health & fitness experts should disclose that they are certified health or fitness expert and medical practitioner.
2. Influencers, celebrities and virtual influencers should (i) provide clear disclaimer that the information/advice shared is substantiated by facts; (ii) clarify that the information/advice shared is not a substitute for professional medical treatment, medicine or diagnosis; (iii) provide sources/citations where necessary; (iv) encourage audience to seek advice from healthcare professionals; and (v) clearly indicate distinction between personal views and professional advice.
3. Before advertising, endorsers should use, conduct due diligence and review the product/service to the extent possible to substantiate the claims made.
4. Endorsers should not (i) make false, misleading or exaggerated claims; and (ii) endorse or distribute information that implies or encourages usage for diagnosing, curing, alleviating, treating or preventing any disease, disorder or condition.
5. Disclaimers should be clearly communicated and hard to miss.
Provided however, endorsers who share general wellness and health advice, not associated with specific products or services or not targeting specific health conditions or outcomes, are exempted. For instance, ‘drink water, stay hydrated’.
It is pertinent to note that any violation of the Guidelines will constitute an offence under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and the violator may be penalized.
The Guidelines reinforce the Ministry’s mission to curb misleading advertisements and promotions and impose responsibility on the influencers, health experts and brands to showcase genuine facts associated with the claims they make for product or services endorsed by them.