Raahil Chopra
May 05, 2022

Goafest 2022: We need to stop seeing things like a sales person of a shop being beaten up – Piyush Pandey

Pandey was in discussion with Rohit Kumar Singh, secretary (CA), Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Food Distribution, at Goafest 2022

Goafest 2022: We need to stop seeing things like a sales person of a shop being beaten up – Piyush Pandey
Day one of Goafest 2022, saw Rohit Kumar Singh, secretary (CA), Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Food Distribution, and Piyush Pandey, chairperson – global creative, and executive chairperson – India, Ogilvy, discuss creativity and consumer protection, and whether there’s a conflict between the two.
The talk was moderated by Subhash Kamath, chairperson, ASCI.
Setting the context for the talk, Kamath, stated, “Creativity doesn’t like boundaries. We are constantly talking about using creativity to push the envelope and create new boundaries. But then, consumer protection comes in, calling for guard rails.”
He followed that by asking the two whether this causes a conflict.
Singh shared that there was no conflict and the only thing that creativity shouldn't be for, is to mislead the consumer.
He said, “The only time we intervene is when the consumer is getting fooled. That’s when it’s not cool.”
Pandey said that agencies need to use creativity in a way that it does justice to the client, as well as the consumer. “We are commercial artists. Someone’s paying for this. You can use creativity to push the boundary, but you can’t use it and jump out of the stadium. If you cannot show a piece of communication to your family, then you shouldn’t show it to anyone.”
Singh then revealed the top priority of the ministry, which was to put an end to misleading advertisers.
He shared, “There’s a toothpaste that claimed it was number one in the world. We questioned who gave it that position. Then, a shirt company stated that one can wear it and not get coronavirus. Similarly, a spectacles company said it can improve one’s vision. This is not acceptable.”
Singh also added that these misleading advertisers were penalised.
“We don’t want one to fool the consumer. The advertising paradigm has changed in the last four-five years. In this paradigm, customer acquisition is the key. The consumer’s interest is compromised and that’s concerning."
Kamath then quizzed the two speakers about how brands are using consumer data to create targeted marketing and whether that could be stopped.
Singh stated that the Government is working on the data protection bill, to be passed soon. After this, unless the consumer has allowed a platform to use his/her data, no one can use it.
He added that the Ministry is also looking to serve notices to companies like Ola and Uber, for having a differential pricing for consumers and unclear cancellation charges.
Singh was also concerned about the number of e-commerce platforms misleading consumers.
He said, “In the last four to five years, the complaints about e-commerce platforms have increased from 8% to 44%. That proves there’s something wrong.”
He added that one such complaint was against Amazon, and shared that the Ministry had advised the e-commerce company to correct the way it handles its grievances.
Pandey stated that creatives have to follow the laws of the land.
“As an industry, we want you (the Ministry) to make recommendations. We need to stop seeing things like a salesperson of a particular shop being beaten up. We need protection.”
Celebrity claims
Recently, celebrities have been in the news for either promoting harmful brands or making misleading claims.
The Government is responding to this by releasing its new advertising guidelines, which should be out in the next 10-15 daysaccording to Singh.
Giving a peek into the guidelines, Singh stated that it’s important for celebs to take responsibility.
“Celebrities need to have reasonable information about the product. They have to take responsibility and we can’t see them eating gutka when the law of the land doesn’t allow it. If they’re promoting cars, they need to have information about it,” he said.
However, Pandey disagreed about celebrities having to know everything about the cars they're endorsing. He said, “Car owners themselves don’t know the nitty-gritty of the product. The client need to bear the brunt of celebrities making such claims. However, the penalty goes to the advertiser instead."
Singh added that while many categories are misleading clients, the Government is specifically monitoring the ed-tech companies. “You can’t push children to go for tuition. If someone is endorsing it, the endorser has to do some amount of due diligence,” he said.
Pandey contradicted this by stating that the consumer isn’t an idiot and would not blindly send a child for tuition, just because a celebrity features in the ad.
He also touched upon the topic of celebrities endorsing multiple products. “In one IPL match, we see one celeb play five different roles. With this, they’re certain not to sell a product,” said Pandey.
The talk ended with a discussion on content creators – and how it’s not in the hands of only agencies and brands now.
Pandey stated that these content creators should be identified. 
“Identify those great creative minds, pay them handsomely and convert those creative into commerce,” he said.
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