Opinion: How can talent managers help creators, influencers & celebs adhere to ASCI guidelines?

Aarhan Siddique

Aarhan Siddique, OpraahFx, gives tips on how talent managers can help influencers and creators adhere to the ASCI guidelines. He shares that it is better to be transparent as opposed to disappointing viewers who genuinely follow you.

Growing at a CAGR of 25% and estimated to make $150 million in revenue per year, the market of influencers and creator economy is one of the largest contributors in the sector of digital entertainment. The growing ecosystem prompted the ASCI Guidelines that were created to encourage self-regulation and in adhering to this Talent Managers play an integral role.

The demand for content consumption is to meet the supply of content creation on every social media platform that marks influencer presence. As digital media consumption becomes the norm, the popularity of influencers endorsing brands and creating standalone content is growing leaps and bounds with every passing year. Thus, the distinction between organic and promotional becomes critical.

How many times have you watched a video to just be entertained by your favourite influencer but later faced disappointment as it turned out to be a brand-sponsored video? Probably very often.

This is where ASCI (Advertising Standard Council of India) come into play. ASCI ensures that advertisements conform to its code for self-regulation, which requires advertisements to comply with legal standards and be honest and truthful. In no way the advertisements should lure or ‘influence’ the audience into wrong actions, exploit, or be deceitful. On June 14th, 2021 a final draft was issued to adhere to ASCI guidelines when it comes to commercial messages or advertisements published by virtual influencers or content creators.

However, expecting influencers, content creators, and celebs to know all these guidelines is extremely impractical.

It is rather the core KRA of the talent manager or representative to timely update themselves with industry norms and rules, and make their creators adhere to the promotional guidelines on social media platforms.

It should be the duty of talent managers to make informed decisions to keep their creators safe from misleading promotions without disclosure.

Let us look at a few ways how talent managers can help creators adhere to the ASCI guidelines.

Sensitise creators about the existence of such guidelines

There are chances that many nano, micro, and upcoming creators not being aware of the promotional and disclosure guidelines. Hence, as a representative, it should be one’s duty to conduct awareness workshops for every influencer or creator they onboard. It should become a hygiene process, and the guidelines need to be referred to every quarter, or until one is fully updated with them.

Refrain from tall claims

Advertisers love claiming immediate results and benefits. While it is of course a quick catch, it is extremely hazardous for an influencer’s reputation (if the claims fail). Ignorance is never bliss, at least when you are trying to sell a product or service. Hence, the influencer or talent manager should first either test the claims or simply avoid promoting them. Remember, as a talent representative it is one’s responsibility to build a credible image of the creator or influencers, and blind claims will only tarnish their image.

Be a watchdog between creators and brands

Talent management decodes the client brief and bridges the gap between brands and influencers seamlessly. It is too much expected that an influencer or celeb would know the guidelines, therefore it gets extremely important for the talent manager to set ‘clear expectations with the brand’. Brands have to be informed that the creator and the brand both have to abide by the digital promotional guidelines and this can never be jeopardised, at any cost.

A talent manager has to be a mentor, a guardian, and a watchdog. These experts are a one-stop-shop of skills-set, starting from brand outreach and branded content to storytelling, and executing campaigns, to name a few. Therefore, the role of a talent manager is crucial to leverage opportunities as per the guidelines. The role has extended from a managerial viewpoint to understanding advertising guidelines in terms of disclosing paid partnerships, highlighting and tagging brands on sponsored posts, and maintaining transparency with the advertisers. The social campaigns that have a specific purpose will have a clear pre-defined agenda in their communication by influencers.

Also Read: Opinion: Building better campaigns in 2022 – Affiliate Marketing 101

Do not make paid partnerships look organic

Can make it look organic’ you will get this request from many brands and your answer should always be, a simple and clear – No!

You know you are breaking the trust of your creator’s audiences when you try to camouflage paid partnerships as organic viewpoints. Today, audiences are very highly exposed to all marketing tactics, and you will just make a fool of yourself and the creator that you represent if you practice this malpractice. There is a reason why people moved away from celebs and started admiring influencers. It was the honesty and reality connection that made them who they are. One lie and the years of trust-building exercise go down the drain.

It isn’t easy to please every stakeholder whose interest is involved in a certain piece of content. Digital natives look for the majority of organic content, brand stakeholders look for conversions and clicks, and influencers look for credibility and validation. The goal for all parties remains common i.e., to structure content consumption that highlights brand and influencer relationships. The dynamic nature of the digital industry will result in guideline changes and eventually the functioning of talent management.

This article the role of Talent Managers adhering to ASCI Guidelines is authored by Aarhan Siddique, Talent Representative Manager OpraahFx.