afaqs! news bureau

ASCI finds Reliance, Volkswagen, LMN, Stayfree ads objectionable

The Volkswagen Polo ad was found to portray violence against animals; while the LMN TVC was considered as being racist; Reliance and Stayfree were found making misleading and unsubstantiated claims

The Advertising Standards Council of India's (ASCI) Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) has pulled up some eminent brands, questioning their campaigns in its report for the months of May and June. Ads by Reliance Communications, Volkswagen Group, Parle Agro, Scorpio Enterprise and Johnson & Johnson were found objectionable.

ASCI finds Reliance, Volkswagen, LMN, Stayfree ads objectionable
In May, Johnson & Johnson's television commercial for Stayfree Secure Ultra Thin Napkins was found making misleading claims. The ad claimed that due to a super-absorbent polymer, the heavy flow is converted into a gel form and is locked. However, it has been subsequently found that the same benefit is offered by other sanitary napkins, without any super-absorbent polymer. The TVC also made a comparison with Whisper Choice; but did not denigrate the competing product. Finding the communication misleading, the advertiser has been asked to modify the commercial appropriately.

In June, Reliance Communications claimed in its television commercial that Net Calls are unlimited; while the CDMA plan offers unlimited talk time. However, the ad failed to mention that both plans are subject to certain limits. Therefore, the ad has been discontinued.

Volkswagen's films for its hatchback, Polo have been discontinued, under the violation of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001. The campaign crafted by DDB Mudra featured animals, against which the car's salient features were being tested. However, the campaign was found to be in poor taste and socially irresponsible; inciting people to misbehave in the few remaining places in India where wildlife heritage remains preserved; and portraying violence against buffaloes and rhinoceroses.

Creativeland Asia's TVC for Parle Agro's LMN was found to be hinting at racism and has been withdrawn. The film showed a dry, parched African site with the inhabitants looking desperately for water; the film suggested that LMN could be substituted for water.

"The situation in Africa and India is extremely grave with no water. The advertiser should not make a joke of this important situation. The TVC is in extremely poor taste, showing the African nation in a bad light. The voiceover, 'If you don't have water, drink LMN' is ridiculous," states ASCI in a press statement.

Notably, the LMN films were shortlisted for the Film Lions this year at Cannes.

Besides, Scorpio Enterprise's commercial for Natraj Atta Maker has been found making unsubstantiated claims -- that it saves grains up to 25 per cent. The company has assured withdrawal of this claim from its ads.

The complaints that were not upheld included the ones against State Bank of India (The Banker to Every Indian); Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance (Bajaj Allianz Shield Plus); Coca Cola India (Thums Up's Thunder Wheels Offer); Max Bupa Health Insurance Company; Glaxosmithkline Consumer Healthcare (Horlicks); Travel Guru and Paras Pharmaceuticals (Zatak deodorant).

For the record, the ASCI is a self-regulatory voluntary organisation of the advertising industry. The role and functioning of the ASCI and the 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.