In February, the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has upheld complaints against six advertisements from brands such as Dabur Chyawan Junior, Maruti SX4, Shanti Badam Amla Hair Oil, Tata AIG Insurance, IMS CAT Approach Program and Mahindra Flyte Power Scooter.
In the case of the Maruti SX4 TV commercial, the CCC ruled that the TVC violated safe driving practices by showing reckless driving of a car across traffic lanes. Similar violation of traffic rules was observed in the case of the Mahindra Flyte Power Scooter ad, where a picture of 'three persons on the scooter without wearing helmets' has been shown. With ASCI's prohibition in place, the advertiser has assured that the said ad will not be released in future.
On the ad of Shanti Badam Hair Oil (Marico), CCC concluded that whilst combing does help in reducing falling or damaged hair, the data on oil penetration and confocal microscopy do not quantify for a double benefit, as the ad claims.
Similarly, ASCI observed that the use of the word 'coolie' in the Tata AIG Life Insurance ad can cause grave and widespread offence, and hence needs to be modified. In the case of IMS's CAT Approach Program, the ad of which claims that the programme can "take you to the 100 percentile", the CCC found the claims to be misleading as there is no "100th percentile".
Alan Collaco, secretary general, ASCI, says, "There is a marked increase in the number of consumer complaints since ASCI launched the campaign appealing to citizens to report misleading, dishonest and indecent ads. Our recently launched toll free number - 1800 22 2724 - receives as many as 300 complaints per month. It's an encouraging indicator that consumers are becoming more aware of their rights and duties. On the other hand, there is 98 per cent compliance from advertisers on ASCI's decisions."
ASCI did not uphold consumer complaints against ads such as Garnier Fructis shampoo, Coca-Cola, Fastrack, Lodha Aqua, Digital Radio, Axe Boost and JK White Cement. In all these cases, the complaints were either found to be baseless, claims were substantiated or within the limits of decency.
In the case of JK Cement, the CCC observed that whilst the bikini clad woman coming out of the ocean was irrelevant to the product, it was not found to be indecent.
For the record, the Advertising Standards Council of India is a self regulatory voluntary organisation of the advertising industry. The role and functioning of the ASCI and its Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) is in dealing with complaints received from consumers and 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.