Endorsers, Not Experts

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Published: June 2, 2015 12:49:45 AM

FDA Haridwar is being rather too credulous to hold Madhuri Dixit to her word in the Maggi ads

In slapping a case against actress Madhuri Dixit for endorsing Maggi—which, it has been alleged, contains harmful chemicals—the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Haridwar comes off as too credulous for the good of a watchdog. If FDA Haridwar indeed thinks that Dixit should have conducted her own independent tests before she signed the endorsement contract with Nestle, it needs to be jolted back into reality. No one’s saying that celebrities should sign endorsement deals without a care for implications of what they are endorsing on, say, people’s health, but that can, at best, be left to their conscience and morals. It can only be the Haridwar FDA’s case that Dixit should have solicited scientific advise from experts—that is, if she did not insist on becoming an expert herself—before she inked any deal to appear in 40-second TV ads, lovingly feeding her “family” some noodles.

Celebrity endorsement is just a gamble on the power of one brand (the star) pushing the sales of another (the product), with millions in payment for the star in most cases. Period. It is not expert certification—the Indian Medical Association’s endorsement of a Pepsi or a Dabur product would lie in that area, with all its attendant accountability. Thus, government watchdogs should be careful to avoid pulling a move like the FDA’s if they don’t want to come off looking as silly. As for

Madhuri Dixit—and other celebrities with multi-million rupee contracts—learning from Amitabh Bachhan, whose contracts make the company whose product he is endorsing responsible for defending him in any related legal cases, would help stir clear of such trouble.

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