China's State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has fined Chinese actress Jing Tian RMB 7.22 million, approximately US$1.08 million for endorsing a weight loss product that was engaging in false advertising and violating advertising laws.
The actress, who has starred in films including Kong: Skull Island and Pacific Rim: Uprising , was named the brand ambassador for Guangzhou-based slimming candy manufacturer Infinite Free. SAMR explained in a statement that Infinite Free made unverified claims that its weight loss product, which allegedly had fruits and vegetables as ingredients, could prevent the body from absorbing sugars, oil, and fats.
The actress was also featured on the product's packaging and promotional videos. According to South China Morning Post , Jing had claimed in ads that the weight loss product could "keep people in good shape" by consuming two candies after a meal. SAMR has since explained that the product contained no significant health benefits despite Jing's claims. This resulted in Infinite Free ads being pulled while the company was fined US$696,500. According to SCMP , the Chinese government also confiscated US$387,300 worth of products.
The actress has since apologised on Weibo, explaining that she had not done adequate research prior to signing the endorsement contract and trusted Infinite Free. Jing added that she fully accepts the penalty and paid the fine immediately. "In future, I will continue to take responsibility for the products I endorse to consumers," she said. Several netizens showed support for Jing on Weibo, praising her for admitting her mistakes while urging her to be cautious in future.
According to SAMR, public figures and celebrities should carry out endorsement activities in accordance with the nation's advertising laws and regulations. SAMR said all sales campaigns must be factual and the law now criminalises celebrities who endorse "underqualified products".
Jing is not the only one to have been engulfed in such a controversy. Last year, Chinese stand-up comedian Li Dan was fined US$134,517 for an ad for Beijing-based underwear brand Ubras that was deemed vulgar and insulting to women's dignity. He had published a video on Weibo last February claiming that underwear "is an equipment that can help women win by lying at the workplace". The video enraged netizens and resulted in Li and Ubras apologising for the improper promotion. Ubras also pulled the ad.
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