Celebrities must do their homework before endorsing crypto, says ad body

Mumbai: Celebrities should be “circumspect” while featuring in cryptocurrency-related advertising, since crypto is an unregulated product in India, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) said.

ASCI is a self-regulatory body, and its guidelines are not legally binding. In case of a breach, the standards body has in the past published the names of those who have not adhered to the guidelines. It also escalates such cases to the relevant government regulator.

“We have always maintained that celebrities need to do their due diligence on the claims they endorse. The Consumer Protection Act, too, lays down penalties for endorsers in case the ad they feature in is found misleading, and if they have done no due diligence,” said Manisha Kapoor, CEO of ASCI.

“Since this (virtual digital asset or VDA) is a risky category, celebrities or prominent personalities who appear in such advertisements must take special care to ensure that they have done their due diligence about the statements and claims made in the advertisement so as not to mislead consumers…,” Kapoor added.

The statement comes after a newspaper reported that the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) had recommended to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance that celebrities should not be allowed to endorse VDAs.

Sebi and the parliamentary panel did not respond to ET’s queries.

In February,
ASCI issued guidelines for the promotion and advertisement of crypto, and Non-fungible Tokens. The guidelines, which kicked in from April 1, mandated that all VDA products and services should carry the disclaimer: “Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions.”

Cryptocurrency platforms CoinDCX and CoinSwitch Kuber last year roped in Bollywood stars Ayushmann Khurrana and Ranveer Singh for ad campaigns during the ICC World Cup.

Crypto exchanges flooded TV screens with advertisements during the ICC T20 World Cup and the Indian

League. As much as Rs 50 crore was spent during the sports event by crypto platforms, ET reported on November 16.

Multiple crypto selling platforms had to pause large-scale television and print advertisements in November last year after encountering criticism from the government and industry stakeholders about the allegedly misleading nature of the ads.

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