Governance Now Visionary Talks Series

Why Virat Kohli, Priyanka Chopra should not quit as brand ambassadors

In the alleged PNB-Nirav Modi scam, they have not led anybody into trouble

GN Bureau | February 22, 2018


#Priyanka Chopra   #Mahendra Singh Dhoni   #Virat Kohli   #Banking   #Punjab National Bank   #Nirav Modi   #Amrapali  
Virat Kohli (Photo Courtesy: Twitter)
Virat Kohli (Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

After becoming the brand ambassador for Punjab National Bank in 2016, cricket star Virat Kohli has appeared in advertisements promoting a variety of loans. Now that PNB is in deep soup over an alleged Rs 11,400 crore scandal, Kohli is expected to end his contract with the bank. That may not be fair.

 
The same argument holds for film stars Priyanka Chopra and Siddharth Malhotra, who have appeared in the advertisements for jeweler-businessman Nirav Modi who is alleged to have perpetrated the fraud.
 
In April 2016, Kohli’s senior, MS Dhoni, had to step down as brand ambassador for Amrapali builders, after the residents of the real-estate firm’s Noida project took to the social media to air their complaints.
 
Apparently, prime minister Narendra Modi proposes to bring in a new law to fix liability of brand ambassadors in such cases, as celebrity faces do influence consumers’ choices. The proposed law will of course have to take care of the nuances of liabilities.
 
However, before asking Kohli, Chopra or Dhoni to end their ties with some firm that is facing allegations of wrongdoing, Twitterati should pause and consider what, if anything, is it that they have done wrong.
 
When Kohli, for example, became the brand ambassador of PNB, a press statement from the bank quoted him as saying that “PNB is Mera Apna Bank” as, the statement adds, “he is an account holder of the Bank since the age of 16 years.” In that case, in fact, he himself might be in the same plight as other PNB accountholders! Come to think of it, naming PNB as “my preferred banker” and nudging a loan aspirant to a nearby PNB bank involve no liability – no fraud has been perpetrated on the bank’s accountholders and loan-takers.
 
In other words, the financial scandal – involving misuse of some LoUs that have gone unpaid for long – has nothing whatever to do with the area Kohli and Chopra are dealing in. Unlike Dhoni, who might have influenced a home-buyer’s decision to buy an Amrapali property and thus (it can be argued) directly led to their later troubles; Kohli and Chopra have not put anybody in trouble by their endorsements.
 
The basic philosophy of consumer protection sometimes seems to be that ‘the consumer is gullible and needs to be protected from any and every potentially misleading claims’. Well, the consumer is no more gullible than the poor: she is the same person who buys Geetanjali jewelry and goes to vote too.

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