ASCI's Customer Complaints Council upholds complaints against three ads

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | March 19, 2010
A Vodafone Zoozoo film and a print ad of an education centre have been asked to be withdrawn, while Pizza Hut has been advised to modify an ad that has been found misleading

The Consumer Complaints Council of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has upheld consumer complaints against three advertisements for the month of January. While the council has prohibited the airing of two ads (Vodafone Essar and Erudite Educational Centre), it has instructed modifications in the third (Yums! Restaurants' Pizza Hut) with immediate effect.

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The ads were found to be in violation of Chapter 3.2(b), 3.3, 1.1 and 1.4 of the ASCI Advertising Code.

The Vodafone Essar commercial that shows a Zoozoo committing suicide has been banned. The film showed a Zoozoo preparing to hang itself and just in the nick of time, receiving an alert on the phone that leads it to change its mind. The TVC was for Vodafone's Job Alerts. The complaint against the TVC was that someone trying to hang himself in an ad is not acceptable by society and the advertisement could be hazardous to young people.

ASCI concluded that the film shows a dangerous action, which is likely to encourage minors to emulate such acts and hence it manifests a disregard for safety and encourages negligence.

Reacting to the same, Rajiv Rao, national creative director, Ogilvy India, says, "The Zoozoo films are gags and exaggerations anyway. They are obviously not meant to be taken seriously. They will surely not inspire anyone to commit such an act. In fact, it will do the opposite. However, if ASCI finds the TVC objectionable, we will honour it."

The film featured a disclaimer that said 'This is dramatisation. Please do not imitate'. The ad has already been pulled off air, with the current Zoozoo campaign featuring new films.

The second ad that has been objected to is a print ad of Erudite Educational Centre, a coaching institute that trains students to gain admissions to professional courses in institutes.

The ad that appeared in print claimed three out of four Indian Institute of Management calls from Kolkata are of students trained at Erudite. The claim is unsupported and unsubstantiated by an independent source and hence ASCI found it misleading.

The complainant said that the ad did not mention the year pertaining to which the claim was made and further noted that it was not possible for any coaching institute to make such a claim as none of the IIMs release any data relating to the locations or addresses of the students. The ad has been withdrawn.

In the case of the third ad of Yums! Restaurants (India)'s Pizza Hut, ASCI has asked the advertiser to modify the advertisement. The ad shows a pizza with a starting price of Rs 100. However, the pizza visually depicted was priced higher.

The ad was displayed in a Pizza Hut outlet in Pune.

The complainant found the ad misleading when he ordered for the pizza showed in the ad, expecting it to be priced at Rs 100. However, he was told that the pizza would cost him Rs 365. At Rs 100, the complainant was told that one would get a plain pizza without any toppings.

The advertiser has assured that appropriate modifications will be made to the promotional material.