Narendra Ambwani, director, Agro Tech Foods, has unanimously been elected as the chairman of the Board of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). Benoy Roy Chawdhuri (executive director, HT Media) is the new vice chairman and Shashidhar Sinha (CEO, IPG Mediabrands) has been appointed as honorary treasurer.
Partha Rakshit, the outgoing chairman of ASCI, says, "Last year was a very eventful and successful one for us. ASCI's effective action towards reducing the complaint processing turnaround time to just 12 days has led ASCI to win the prestigious EASA Gold Award for Best Practices. There has also been more than 90 per cent compliance towards the advertisements wherein a complaint against an advertisement was "upheld"."
These advertisements were either withdrawn or were appropriately modified. In a noteworthy achievement, ASCI issued guidelines on skin lightening and fairness products which ensured that these advertisements do not depict people with dark skin as somehow inferior to those who are fairer. Also recently, government took notice of ASCI's efforts to curb Teleshopping Ads that violate the ASCI Code and ensured strict compliance of the advertising code in the Cable Television Networks Act (CTN).
Ambwani says that in the coming year, he hopes to promote ASCI's guidelines more vigorously among advertisers and creative agencies, so that new ads meet ASCI's standards at the creative stage itself. "We also hope to collaborate strongly with the regulators and consumer groups to ensure fairness and responsibility in advertising," he adds.
For the record, ASCI is a self-regulatory voluntary organisation of the advertising industry. ASCI and its Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) deal 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 in contravention of the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising. Under its National Ad Monitoring Service (NAMS) started in May 2012, ASCI now also pro-actively monitors almost all new print and TV ads released in the country.