- Apprentice Lawyer
A District Consumer Redressal Forum in Kerala recently penalised Malayalam film actor Anoop Menon and Dhathri Ayurveda for false claims in relation to Dhathri’s hair cream which guaranteed hair growth within 6 weeks of use.
Forum President CT Sahu and Members Sreeja S and Dr K Radhakrishnan Nair passed the order in September 2020 in an eight-year old complaint. The reasoned 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.
Watch a video of the advertisement here:
The advertisement featuring Menon guaranteed hair growth within six weeks of the application of the hair cream, ‘Dhathri hair protector’.
Allured by the advertisement, Francis Vadakkan in 2012 purchased the product hoping that his hair would grow. The product, however, failed to produce the promised result.
After his acquaintances and family ridiculed him, a disappointed Vadakkan filed a complaint through Advocate Benny AD against Dhatri, the film actor, and the medical store from where he purchased the hair cream. He sought a compensation of Rs. 5 Lakh for mental agony.
Interestingly, in proceedings before the Forum, actor Anoop Menon submitted that he did not know the precise nature of the product he was endorsing. He admitted in Court that he himself used a home remedy prepared by his mother for his hair.
He stated that he was under the impression that the product was to be used for hair care as opposed to hair growth submitting that the company added the story and the wording used during the advertisement.
Censuring the actor for endorsing a product he did not personally use or have knowledge about, the Forum directed Dhathri and Menon to pay a compensation of Rs. 10,000 each to the complainant. The medical shop Vadakkan purchased the product from was directed to pay a sum of Rs. 3.000.
The Forum also pointed out that the disclaimers provided along with the product were hardly noticeable and could not even be read with a magnifying glass.
The Forum deprecated the trend of using attractive marketing techniques to lure consumers into purchasing products that were sub-standard.
"Newspapers and the media have reduced themselves to channels to promote brands and have forgotten their duties as journalists.…Advertisements spark consumerist desire in people…a ploy to make people to buy useless products", the Forum said.
The Forum cautioned Anoop Menon against endorsing products whose credibility he could not attest to.
The forum applied provisions of the erstwhile Consumer Protection Act when providing relief to the complainant.
Pertinently, the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 contains provisions to deal with celebrities who endorse products about which they do not have knowledge.