The Department of Consumer Affairs on Monday released detailed guidelines for social media and virtual influencers as well as celebrities which are aimed at ensuring that such individuals do not mislead their audience while endorsing products or services.

The guidelines titled “Endorsements Know-hows” have also been prepared to ensure that endorsements undertaken by such individuals are in compliance with the Consumer Protection Act.

The guidelines state that endorsements must be made in simple, clear language, and terms such as “advertisement”, “sponsored”, “collaboration” or “paid promotion” are used clearly.
Individuals must not endorse any product or service that they have not personally used or experienced or in which due diligence has not been done by them, the guidelines noted.
The department has noted that there is confusion regarding which disclosure word should be used for what kind of partnership.

Therefore, for paid or barter brand endorsement, disclosure words like “advertisement” “ad” “sponsored” “collaboration” or “partnership” should be used.

However, the term must be indicated as hashtag or in headline text, the guidelines say.
The guidelines specify that individuals or groups who have access to an audience and the power to affect their audiences’ purchasing decisions or opinions about a product, service, brand, or experience, because of the influencer’s or celebrity’s authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience, must be disclosed.

They further stated that the disclosure must be placed in the endorsement message in a manner that is clear, prominent and extremely hard to miss.

Disclosures should not be mixed with a group of hashtags or links.
For endorsements in a picture, disclosures should be superimposed over the image enough for viewers to notice.

For endorsements in a video or a live stream, disclosures should be made in both audio and video format and displayed continuously and prominently during the entire stream.
The guidelines advise celebrities and influencers to always review and satisfy themselves that the advertiser is in a position to substantiate the claims made in the advertisement.
It is also recommended that the product and service must actually been used or experienced by the endorser.