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A simple message to raise voice against 'misleading, dishonest and indecent' advertising

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | December 28, 2009
In its latest initiative, the Advertising Standards Council of India passes a simple yet strong message to make consumers more aware of the body

Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the self regulatory voluntary organisation of the advertising industry, has launched a nationwide campaign urging people to raise a voice against what they consider to be 'misleading, dishonest and indecent' advertising.

The campaign, created by DDB Mudra, consists of print and television advertisements and outdoor promotions. The message in the campaign is simple and direct. Using a red background and white text, it says, 'If you think an advertisement is misleading, dishonest or indecent, contact ASCI'. The advertisement also gives ASCI's postal address, telephone numbers, website URL and email address.

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The 10-second TV commercial will feature the same creative and will be aired across channels.

ASCI officials are also conducting lectures and presentations at schools and colleges to introduce the campaign and garner support from the youth.

Unlike its previous campaign, ASCI chose to pass a straightforward message to consumers, empowering them with the choice to decide what is improper.

Earlier, a funny route was chosen, with three films created by Leo Burnett that spoofed typical ads. The films took shots at tele-shopping programme ads, vulgarity in commercials and dangerous stunts that could influence children.

"The basic objective was to make people aware that there is a body such as ASCI that will take up grievances, if any. We wanted a simple idea," BV Patel, chairperson, Indian Society of Advertising and ex-chairperson, ASCI, tells afaqs!.

It is learnt that there was no pitch process involved and agencies volunteered to contribute to the initiative pro bono.

Leading television channels, newspapers and other media are also expected to carry the ads pro bono to show their commitment to the self regulation movement in India.

In a press statement, Dhananjay Keskar, chairperson, ASCI board, says, "ASCI firmly believes in the power of the common man and especially women in India. We believe that to effectively regulate advertisements across India, people will have to come forward and report the misleading and indecent advertisements that they come across. This is a strong call of appeal to viewers, consumers and masses to become active agents in keeping the advertisements clean and honest."

ASCI's advertising code is part of the Cable TV Act's ad code and therefore, the body has the legal authority to stop offensive ads from being aired if a complaint is found to be legitimate.

The role and functioning of the ASCI and its Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) is to deal with complaints received from consumers and the industry against advertisements which are considered false, misleading, indecent, illegal, leading to unsafe practices or unfair to competition, and consequently, in contravention of the ASCI Code for Self Regulation in advertising.