Corporate Social Responsibility that makes a company accountable to society, should also have another full form – Celebrity Social Responsibility
Neelam Malkani | Bhopal
As gullible fans and viewers of Indian cinema, we not only believe but also applaud when Ajay Devgan stands still on two moving bikes or crosses two buildings on a thin staircase defying all the laws of physics. Similarly, when he urges to speak “Zuban Kesari” or gamble under the garb of online gaming, we tend to believe he is legit. We are so awestruck by these celebrities that we hardly apply our brain and think rationally. Probably that is why we also want to believe that Virat Kohli and Saurav Ganguly have achieved the stellar success and physical stamina not by playing sports on ground but by playing games online. Afterall, they all are advertising one or the other online gaming platforms.
In spite of knowing their impact and appeal on their viewers, especially youngsters, these influencers are consciously choosing to advertise things which have the potential to affect the society negatively
The reality is that despite rolling in money, celebrities do not fritter away any opportunity to mint moolah through endorsements because they are less time consuming, do not affect their career graphs and bring huge money easily. Furthermore, they can’t be blamed if the product does not work for a consumer. Clearly, it is a win-win situation for them. That is why they go all out with their PR team to bag the endorsements even if they come at the expense of ruining their follower’s health or hard-earned money. What is in it for us? We pay higher price because of elevated marketing cost. We start believing in the standards of beauty, happiness and good life set by the marketeers for their own benefit.
Though now there are laws in place against spreading misinformation, nothing prevents celebrities from advertising seemingly innocuous ideas that might have dire consequences. Online gaming, for example, which is estimated to be a billion-Dollar industry, has put up a dazzling line of celebrities to woo the youngsters to come in the lure of winning money by gaming. When teenagers see their favorite stars endorsing gambling, they are highly likely to be induced into doing it and following it. A survey conducted by IIM Rohtak also confirmed that teenagers’ inclination to gamble in an online gaming is higher when they see a “trustworthy, attractive and familiar’ face in the advertisement.
It was harmless till we were made to believe for decades that LUX is the beauty secret of Indian Cinema’s ravishing actresses. But now we are dealing with the issues which might have far reaching repercussions. An entire generation, which is in an impressionable stage, might come to believe that to earn money skills, knowledge or talent are unnecessary. After all celebrities are not giving any statuary warning to the viewers that they have earned their fortune by working hard to develop their skills and not by any stroke of luck in gambling. Akshay Kumar, for example, is not saying unequivocally that he has maintained his fitness level and is active even at the age of 55 because he follows a very strict diet regimen and abstains from consuming alcohol or tobacco that he ‘accidently’ endorsed.
In spite of knowing their impact and appeal on their viewers, especially youngsters, these influencers are consciously choosing to advertise things which have the potential to affect the society negatively. Apparently, they are not invested in the wellbeing of youth of this country. Having milked their status, privileges and popularity, these “heroes” should now bear some responsibility and be more transparent while endorsing any brand. CSR which stands for Corporate social responsibility that makes a company accountable to society, should also have another full form – celebrity social responsibility and should be applied to all influencers.
Neelam Malkani is a Bhopal-based educator and freelance writer