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Three newspaper brands come under ASCI axe

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | December 21, 2010
The advertisements in question were of newspaper brands Prabhat Khabar, DNA and NaiDunia besides the FMCG brand Sprite and liquor brand McDowell's No. 1.

The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has upheld complaints against five advertisements in September 2010. The advertisements in question were the newspaper brands Prabhat Khabar, DNA and NaiDunia; FMCG brand Sprite and liquor brand McDowell's No. 1.

The complaint against the daily newspaper Prabhat Khabar was that it claimed to hold the No. 1 position in Jharkhand by citing data from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), July-December 2009. The CCC findings reflected that the ABC July-December'09 results did not reflect Prabhat Khabar as the No. 1 newspaper in Jharkhand. It was found that the claim was not substantiated by the ABC report taking into account the circulation of Jamshedpur. The advertiser has discontinued the advertisement.

Similarly, CCC found that DNA's advertisement claimed that it was 'The No. 1 daily for the independent people', 'The No. 1 daily for the new Indian', 'The No. 1 daily for the people's voice', and 'The No. 1 daily for tomorrow's leader'. These were not substantiated by any data or research from any independent organisation. The advertiser did not even state any source or explicit study conducted before making these claims. The said advertisement was suspended by the advertiser.

In case of NaiDunia, the advertiser's assurance of compliance was still awaited by ASCI. The advertisement of NaiDunia stated, 'This remarkable growth rate of NaiDunia can perhaps be an indication of the future, as much as that of current value'. The advertisement was considered misleading by CCCI as per Chapter I.4 as although the growth rate of NaiDunia and Dainik Bhaskar may have been correctly depicted, the absence of a base index renders the advertisement misleading.

In the Sprite TVC, two explorers were shown captured by an apparently cannibal tribe with distinctly African features. It was shown that one of them manages to get out by bribing the tribal people with a soft drink bottle. CCC concluded that the ad projects a negative stereotype of Africans and hence violates Chapter III, 1(b) of ASCI, which doesn't permit derision of race, caste, colour, creed or nationality. Hence, the TVC was withdrawn by the advertiser.

In case of McDowell's No. 1 Platinum CD ad, having the slogan 'Get inspired by the rare and legendary', the CCC concluded that the ad was a surrogate ad for a liquor product - McDowell's No.1 - and hence contravened Chapter III.6 of the code. As the ad appears in the middle of a live cricket match, it is not distinguishable from the programme and hence, it also violates the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994. Hence, the TVC was withdrawn.

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.

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