Brands unethically still using politician Rabi Lamichhane as their brand ambassador
Politicians, media persons are expected to follow certain ethical standards, i.e to primarily avoid conflict of interests. However, as we have repeatedly asserted, Nepal seems to be a Wild Wild West. From politicians sitting on board of private business groups to journalists becoming brand ambassadors, there seems to be total lack of impunity and ethical check from brands, politicians and individuals.
Rabi Lamichhane has officially forayed into politics and has registered his party ( Nepal Independent Party). With his announcement, Lamichhane also formally recused himself from journalism to avoid potential conflict of interest. Why a journalist supposed to be a media watchdog against corporations was endorsing private products in the first place is questionable. However, his decision to separate himself from media now is laudable. That said, we have found that brands that he endorses are still using him to advertise their products.
Conflict of interest
Rabi Lamichhane is not a media personality like Maha Jodi or Rajesh Hamal. Having formed a political party, Lamichhane is now supposed to serve the public and not particular brands. If you feel Lamichhane and the brands have done nothing wrong, Rabi continuing to endorse Kamana Bikas Bank is a slippery slope. What if Prachanda becomes brand ambassador for Bhatbhateni or Deuba becomes brand ambassador for Batas group or if K.P. Oli endorses a private hospital.
As a journalist, Lamichhane and brands particularly should have refrained from using him as a brand ambassador in the first place. How can we expect a journalist to be unbiased from his reporting when he endorses a brand? How can we expect competing brands to get free and fair coverage from Rabi Lamichhane and his network?
A private citizen should be allowed to engage in financial transactions. However, as a politician blatantly disregarding basic ethics is problematic. Even more problematic are the brands affiliating with political person. While Lamichhane’s somewhat ‘good image’ might help the brands in the short run. However, since politics is a dirty game, to expect Rabi Lamichanne’s goodwill’s longevity to last post his political stint is laughable. Case in point- Rabindra Mishra. Prior to joining politics, he was probably the most famous and well-respected journalist. However, no brands would consider using him to endorse their products given his stupendous fall from grace.
BrandGuff is frustrated seeing the state of affairs in Nepal’s marketing industry. While we go about blaming politicians for our issues, the fact that we overlook issues when it comes from people/organizations we like is sad. Case in point- Our recent article on RONB was criticized by few going as far as to blame us for being Arju Deuwa’s lackey. The fact that we Nepalese deflect constructive feedback is idiotic. Whether or not we are Arju’s lackey is a moot point. Is it not unethical and illegal to avoid transparency when it comes to ads? Similarly, just because you like certain aspects of Rabi Lamichhane does not mean him endorsing products is not unethical. Simply put, a journalist who claims to be a watchdog against governmental and corporate malpractice cannot be expected to be free from bias when he endorses a certain product. As a politician, brands using him still is even more unethical.
Also read our article on the need for separation of politics from business here!