Indian limited-overs cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has decided wisely to stop endorsing a real estate promoter who has been in the news for the wrong reasons. As one of the most sought-after celebrities for brand-building, the cricketer faced flak on social media for this endorsement. With a majority of the people who had booked apartments with the promoter facing problems related to quality and timely delivery, the issue exploded into a campaign that sucked in the celebrity.
Considering that endorsements fetched Dhoni Rs 180 crore in 2015 as opposed to his salary earnings of only Rs 27 crore, it is easy to see where celebrities rake in the big money. Holding them responsible for the products they endorse is, however, a new phenomenon. It started with the controversy over lead content in Maggi noodles when celebs began coming under pressure for their propensity to put their seal on any product provided their price was met.
In a land where people worship celebrities, virtually equating them with demigods, there has to be more than mere social responsibility, like not endorsing doubtful products, tobacco or liquor. Recently, a parliamentary committee recommended changes to the Consumer Protection Bill to include fines and jail terms for celebrities who mislead people into buying questionable or shoddy products.
The government was also of the view that such celebrities must pay damages alongwith the promoter. While top celebrities like Dhoni, Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan keep off products on the suspect list, they could, however, do with a lot more due diligence in picking brands to endorse.