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Chinese regulators have banned celebrities from endorsing a host of products, including tobacco products, off-campus tutoring, formula foods, healthcare and medical goods.
The new rules, released by the State Administration for Market Regulation and six other groups on Monday afternoon, will constrict the lucrative world of celebrity endorsements, which has been plagued by high-profile scandals in recent years.
The new rules ban celebrities from endorsing the products via social media, television commercials, live streams or interviews.
“Celebrities should consciously practice socialist core values in their advertising endorsement activities,” the rules sate. “Activities should conform to social morals and traditional virtues.”
The rules include internet influencers in their definition of celebrities, reflecting the increasingly powerful role that livestreamers and online personalities can play in promoting products.
Livestreamers, such as Chu Fei, left, are becoming increasingly influential in China © Qilai Shen/Bloomberg
They also ban promotion of “deformed aesthetics” and use of images or likenesses of party and state leaders or revolutionary heroes.
Any products that a celebrity does endorse must be thoroughly tested by them first, and the results of the test must be recorded in advance, the new rules state.
Companies should “consciously resist the selection of illegal and immoral celebrities as advertising spokespersons”, they added.
The celebrity endorsement industry has been hit by a series of scandals. Most recently, Li Jiaqi, a livestreamer, disappeared from public view for three months after featuring a tank-shaped cake on a June 3 video, which, some analysts speculated, Beijing had interpreted as an implicit reference to the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre the next day.
“If an enterprise knows or should know that a celebrity has made wrong political remarks or other remarks that violate the core socialist values …it shall… determine that the relevant advertisement obstructs social stability and social public order,” the new rules state.