This update, which was introduced in March, is already having an impact on brands and their celebrity partners in the country, with recent celebrity slip-ups highlighting the potential pitfalls of endorsement under the revised rules.
With brands needing to be aware of this shift in legal demands, it remains to be seen whether the new law will dissuade celebrities from endorsing beauty products.
China’s judicial revision took effect on 15 March and states that celebrity endorsers are now liable for the products they advertise, and that customers can claim compensation from the producers and sellers.
The Weibo social media site, hugely popular in China, is regularly used by brands as the platform for microblog marketing, yet some recent celebrity missteps have highlighted the need for extra vigilance following the legal revision, particularly in the age of social media and its informal updates.
Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, a brand ambassador for L’Oreal’s hair care range, came under fire from social media users recently for posting a photo of herself with dishevelled hair, looking perhaps to go on to endorse the brand’s products with a follow-up ‘after’ snap.
Unimpressed consumers were quick to point out if the actress had been using the brand’s products regularly as a brand ambassador might be expected to, a ‘bad hair day’ should not be a problem, unless the products were inadequate. Fan withdrew the photo.
Room for soapy slip-ups?
In another instance which highlights the increased culpability of celebrity ambassadors, celebrities were paid reportedly between 20,000 yuan and 1.2 million yuan (US $3,200 - $192,00) by soap manufacturer Beature, to post about the products on their Weibo accounts.
Want China Times reports, however, that “most such soaps are produced and sold without a production license or sanitation verification”, a situation which now leaves the celeb endorsers open to claims made by any dissatisfied consumers.