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Medicine firms slammed for using stars

By Christine Cai (Shanghai Daily)

08:22, May 02, 2012

Pharmaceutical companies have come under fire for hiring entertainment stars to be brand ambassadors.

The Xiuzheng Pharmaceutical Goup in Jilin Province, which is on the chromium-tainted medicine list, was criticized online for hiring at least nine major stars to advertise its medicines.

One of the stars, Chinese mainland actor Sun Honglei, earned 4 million yuan (US$633,976) over two years as a brand ambassador for the firm. It has been reported that Xiuzheng spends nearly 10 million yuan a year in hiring stars to be brand ambassadors and millions more on TV advertising.

The huge investment seems to pay off as the company's revenue reached 11.5 billion yuan last year.

Many online comments called for stricter laws governing the use of celebrities in advertising.

Miao Jun, director of Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau's advertisement management department, said there was no law preventing entertainment stars from shooting advertisements, but it did ban stars from promoting medicines and medical appliances as patients.

Some lawyers say stars should be held legally responsibile for what they advertise, as in some Western countries where entertainment and sports stars often refuse to shoot medicine adverts because of the legal risks.

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