Legal Considerations for Influencer Marketing Campaigns in India

A comprehensive guide to navigating legal requirements for successful influencer marketing campaigns in India

Pranjal Srivastava

5/24/20233 min read

The world of influencer marketing is booming, and India is no exception. With its vast population and growing digital landscape, influencer marketing has become a powerful tool for brands to connect with their target audience. As of 2023, the influencer marketing industry in India is valued at over INR 12 Billion. It is projected to grow at a rate of 25 percent over the next five years. The industry's market value is estimated to amount to INR 28 billion by 2026. Nearly 55 million urban Indians were direct consumers for influencers of various kinds as of 2022. However, running successful influencer marketing campaigns requires a comprehensive understanding of the legal framework to ensure compliance and mitigate potential risks. In this article, we will delve into the key legal considerations for influencer marketing campaigns in India.

Disclosure and Transparency

Transparency is the cornerstone of influencer marketing in India. The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has laid down guidelines to ensure that influencers clearly disclose any paid collaborations or brand endorsements. It is crucial for influencers to label their sponsored content appropriately, using hashtags such as #ad, #sponsored, or #collaboration. The disclosure should be easily visible and not buried within the content. Ensuring transparency builds trust with consumers and helps them make informed choices.

Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property (IP) rights are of paramount importance in influencer marketing campaigns. Content creators invest their time and creativity in producing engaging content for brands. To protect both parties, it is vital to have well-drafted agreements that outline the usage rights, duration, and compensation for the content. This ensures that brands have the necessary permissions to use and modify the content, while influencers retain their rights and receive fair compensation for their work.

Consumer Protection Laws

In a landmark judgement of Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562, the House of Lords established the civil tort of negligence and ruled that businesses owed duty of care towards its customers. Further, in the case of Francis Vadakkan v A-One Medicals & others (2012), CC No. 345, the complainant saw an ad which guaranteed hair growth within six weeks if the particular advertised product is used. Despite these claims, the usage of the product did not result in the same. The court directed all the defendants (the opposite party) to pay compensation to the client for making ‘false promises’ and also directed the actor to promote a product only after ensuring its credibility and effectiveness. Influencer marketing campaigns must adhere to India's consumer protection laws. Brands and influencers should refrain from engaging in deceptive practices, false claims, or misleading advertisements. The content should accurately represent the features, benefits, and qualities of the products or services being promoted. Compliance with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) guidelines is essential to avoid penalties or damage to the brand's reputation. Adhering to consumer protection laws ensures transparency and protects consumers from misinformation.

Data Protection and Privacy

Data protection is a critical consideration in influencer marketing campaigns. Influencers often have access to personal information about their followers and subscribers. It is imperative to handle this data in compliance with the applicable data protection and privacy laws, such as the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 (currently in the draft stage). Obtaining explicit consent from individuals before collecting or using their personal data is crucial. Influencers should also implement robust security measures to safeguard this data from unauthorized access or misuse.

Endorsement Guidelines and Brand Safety

Brands should provide clear guidelines to influencers regarding the messaging, tone, and values associated with their products or services. This ensures that the content aligns with the brand's image and objectives. Brands should also conduct due diligence when selecting influencers to partner with, ensuring that their values and behavior align with those of the brand. Monitoring the content generated by influencers and addressing any issues promptly is crucial to protect the brand's reputation and maintain brand safety.

In conclusion, influencer marketing offers immense opportunities for brands to engage with their target audience effectively. However, navigating the legal landscape is vital to ensure compliance, protect consumer interests, and safeguard brand reputation. By embracing transparency, respecting intellectual property rights, adhering to consumer protection laws, safeguarding personal data, and maintaining brand safety, brands and influencers can forge successful partnerships and harness the full potential of influencer marketing in India's dynamic digital market.