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Education sector comes under ASCI scanner

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | November 24, 2010
ASCI finds claims by Career Launcher, T.I.M.E Institute and Education Matters unsubstantial.

The self regulatory voluntary organisation of the advertising industry, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), recently introduced guidelines for the education sector, which seems to have made an impact among the masses as the number of complaints against education institutions' ads have gone up. ASCI has received the maximum number of complaints against the education sector since the guidelines went up on the website for public viewing in August.

Of the 12 complaints received by ASCI, six were against ads of education institutes and the rest from FMCG, travel, realty and appliances companies.

ASCI's Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld three advertisements of Career Launcher, the coaching institute for exams such as CAT, GRE, GATE and others, as the claims could not be substantiated. The complaints pertained to claims of highest success rate, number of students taking tests and being the most successful trainer in Mumbai. Career Launcher could not substantiate any of the claims with data and hence, under ASCI code's Chapter I, Clause1, the CCC asked for the ads to be withdrawn - which was done.

Similarly, another coaching institute, T.I.M.E Institute, was asked to withdraw ads as the institute did not substantiate its claim of being the No. 1 institute for GMAT at the time. A claim by Education Matters on its website about its association with the British Deputy High Commission was unsubstantiated and therefore, it was directed to withdraw the claim from its website.

Alan Collaco, secretary general, ASCI, says, "The recent introduction of education sector guidelines seems to be showing visible effects. The guidelines were much debated and well received by the industry and citizens alike. More than 50 per cent of the complaints this time were against educational institutes. The growing awareness and increased complaints is a good sign for the self regulated ad content guidelines of ASCI in India."

Other than the educational institutes, a TVC of Colgate Sensitive toothpaste was found to be misleading from the aspect of its visual showing "other" toothpastes having only one out of four dentists recommending them, when the figure was actually more. The company was asked to modify this aspect of the TVC.

However, Colgate was able to substantiate its claims of "relief from pain for sensitive teeth" and "3 out of every 4 dentists recommend Colgate Sensitive" with supporting data. Colgate-Palmolive has assured appropriate modification of the TVC.

CCC also upheld Dabur Pudin Hara's claim that the product does not contain any chemicals. ASCI found the claim misleading and instructed the company to modify it appropriately. However, the company was successful in substantiating the claim of "relief from pain and acidity" with supporting data.

In a case of comparative advertising, an ice-cream brand of Kochi based Supreme Food Industries - MeriiBoy Ice Cream - was found to be misleading the consumers by claiming that the contents of competitors' products were artificial. The CCC found the comparison unfair and misleading. As per the CCC decision, the leaflets were withdrawn from the market and the website content modified by the advertiser.

The complaint against Nirali Appliances of claiming savings on electricity and several power related claims was found to be unsubstantiated by any proper or relevant authority on energy. Upon CCC's ruling, the advertiser assured that such claims will not be repeated in leaflets and on the website.

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