The Beijing Consumers' Association has joined the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television to launch a crackdown on misleading adverts.
The association recently sent a public letter to celebrities, encouraging them to take a more active part in public service ads and to refuse misleading ads.
In the public letter, the association pointed out several misleading features existing in the current ads market. Firstly, celebrities featured in the advertisements often don't use the products they claim they do.
Secondly, the stars exaggerate the effects of medicine and other medical equipment.
For example, Hong Kong star Cecilia Cheung received 2.5 million yuan for advertising a weight-losing soap priced 22 yuan (US$2.8). How can she solely rely on this cheap product to keep a slim figure. For most people, it is difficult to believe the credibility of such a product, yet there are many vulnerable die-hard fans who are willing to believe anything. And it is these people who need to be protected.
Like Cheung, many celebrities have become leading characters in commercials, which are highly lucrative and help boost their star appeal.
Manufacturers or advertising companies see the stars' fame as crucial in influencing consumers.
While there are no laws to forbid celebrities starring in ads, it is important that they should be responsible for the credibility of the product they are advertising.
Fortunately, some public-spirited celebrities have realized how to use the influence to contribute to society. Famous actor Pu Cunxin has set up a foundation under his own name to advertise for the good of the public, such as encouraging people to donate blood and helping drug addicts get rid of their habit. "Such advertisements are not profitable. But they can bring enormous, positive influence to society," Pu said.
(Shenzhen Daily August 26, 2004)