China's celebrity ads under scrutiny

China's celebrity ads under scrutiny

Celebrities, beware when endorsing products or services.

That caution was given by legislators and lawyers on Thursday, after a newly revised law, for the first time, makes celebrities liable for appearing in misleading advertising for products that damage consumers' health.

The revision to the law, passed by the top legislature on October 25, has a new clause stating that social groups and individuals who endorse products or services that cause harm to consumers should be jointly liable with the producer of the product or service provider.

Celebrities should take extra caution when advertising food and medicine, said Shi Hong, an official with the civil law division under the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

"Joint liability means consumers can seek compensation either from the producer or from the party who endorsed it. It is a matter of the consumers' own choices," he said at a symposium on Thursday.

Wu Jingming, an associate professor of consumer rights law at the China University of Political Science and Law, said the new law fixed a loophole, as China was one of few countries where celebrities were not punished for endorsing products that cause damage to consumers.

The revised law also states the designers and publishers of the advertisements will be held liable.

Chen Jian, an official with the China Consumers' Association, said the revision will prompt media to strictly review ads.

"For the media, they should take more responsibility. For consumers, they take it for granted that the better-known the media outlet is, the more trust they can have in the products advertised."

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