District Forum deprecates misleading product ads, imposes costs on celebrity endorser Anoop Menon2 min read


Recently  Malayalam film actor Anoop Menon and Dhathri Ayurveda have been penalized for false claims about Dhathri’s hair cream by a District Consumer Redressal Forum in Kerala. The hair growth was guaranteed within 6 weeks of the use of the cream. 

The complainant Francis Vadakkan in 2012 purchased the product hoping for the hair growth as promised by the advertisement but the product failed to produce the results. After being ridiculed and disappointed, Vadakkan decided to file a complaint against Dhathri, the film actor, and the medical store from where he purchased the hair cream, through advocate Benny AD.

A compensation of Rupees five lakhs was sought for the mental agony caused to the consumer.

In the eight-year-old complaint, Forum President CT Sahu and members Sreeja S and Dr. K Radhakrishnan Nair passed the order in September 2020. The order was released last week.

“Advertisements should foster the growth of an informed consumer culture, enabling consumers to choose wisely and reject products that are spurious or deceptive”, the Forum’s order translated from Malayalam stated.

During proceedings before the Forum, actor Anoop Menon submitted that the precise nature of the product was not known to him, that he was endorsing.

 He also said that he was under the impression that the product was meant for hair care and not for hair growth, and that the story and the wording were added by the company during the advertisement. He admitted that he used a home remedy for his hair, prepared by his mother.

The forum directed Menon and  Dhathri to pay a compensation of Rs. 10,000 each to the complainant criticizing the actor for recommending a product that he did not know about and whose credibility he could not attest to.

Provisions of the erstwhile Consumer Protection Act were applied by the forum when taking the decision. Significantly, the Consumer Rights Act of 2019 has guidelines for dealing with celebrities who promote items they don’t know about.

In addition to this, the medical shop from where Vadakkan purchased the product was directed to pay a sum of Rs. 3.000.

Moreover, the disclaimers provided along with the product were hardly noticeable and could not even be read with a magnifying glass, as pointed out by the forum.

“Newspapers and the media have reduced themselves to channels to promote brands and have forgotten their duties as journalists.… Advertisements spark the consumerist desire in people…a ploy to make people buy useless products”, the Forum said.

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