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ASCI upholds complaints against 17 out of 31 ads during November-December 2011

ASCI's CCC upheld complaints against 17 ads across sectors, including agricultural products, deodorants, personal hygiene and home shopping networks. During the same period, the CCC did not uphold complaints against14 advertisements.

During November and December 2011, the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) upheld complaints against 17 advertisements, from various sectors such as agricultural products, deodorants, personal hygiene and home shopping networks.

ASCI upholds complaints against 17 out of 31 ads during November-December 2011
Complaints were upheld against brands such as Bollgard, Pass Port Deodorant, Telemart Shopping Network, Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI), Dr. Ayurveda Power Prash and Body Growth, Glen Appliances, Denver Deodorant, Stayfree All Night, Complan, Noesis Education and Management Services, Gelusil Antacid and Eureka Forbes' Aquasure.

The complaint against Bollgard came in because the ad made claims of boosting cotton farmers' income by Rs 31,500 crore, reducing usage of insecticides, containing in-built plant protection and increasing yields. The CCC concluded that these claims were not substantiated. As the advertisement contravened Chapter I.1 of the ASCI Code, the complaint was upheld.

The complaint against Pass Port Deodorant came in as the television commercial (TVC) focuses on a woman's body and the lewd expressions on the face of the male actor. The ad was deemed obscene by the authorities and in the light of the generally prevailing standards of decency and propriety, the TVC was seen as one likely to cause grave or widespread offence. The complaint against it was therefore upheld.

Telemart Shopping Network's Sandhi Sudha ad was under the scanner as the TVC made claims of curing arthritis and spondylitis and of a 'Money Back Guarantee' if the product was ineffective. The CCC concluded that in the absence of scientific substantiation, the claim, 'Sandhi Sudha cures the disease of arthritis and spondylitis', was found to be misleading. The complaint regarding the money back guarantee was also deemed as misleading as the terms and conditions for the refund were not mentioned in the TVC. The complaint against it was thus upheld.

AMFI's booklet states that 'Every Mutual Fund is managed by a fund manager, who by using his investment management skills and necessary research work, ensures better returns than what an investor can manage on his own'. In this case, the objection is to the word 'ensures' as it was deemed misleading. The complaint against this ad was hence upheld.

Dr. Ayurveda Power Prash and Body Growth's ad for 'enhancement of sexual power' was questioned specifically for its claim that it could increase sperm count and help people suffering from infertility to have children. According to the CCC, the advertiser should provide clinical data in substantiation of these claims. The CCC thus concluded that the TVC contravened The Drugs & Magic Remedies Act and the complaint was upheld.

Glen Appliances' print ad states, "Do you know cooking in aluminium can be harmful?" while its website states, "Do you know aluminium cookware is not safe?" Since these claims have not been substantiated by any reputed international organisation (such as the World Health Organisation or by any country noted for a high standard of vigilance in consumer protection), and are not based on facts, they have been found incapable of reasonable substantiation. Also, according to the authorities, the ad unfairly denigrates attacks and discredits all aluminium cookware directly. The CCC concluded that the claims were misleading, and hence the complaint was upheld.

Vanesa Inc's ad for Denver Deodorant contains the tagline, 'Play it cool'. However, the brand John Player's has been using the same tagline since 2005. Since copying the slogan amounts to plagiarism, the ad contravened Chapter IV.3 of the ASCI Code and the complaint was upheld.

In the personal hygiene segment, the CCC received a complaint against Stayfree All Night. As per the complaint, the ad claims: "Stayfree all night has unique guard five. This, in comparison to your Ultra, is longer, wider, with more body coverage, more absorbent and drier too." This claim implies that the product is better than all the products in the market that use the word 'Ultra'. In reality, though, this is not the case, as has been admitted by the TVC in the form of a super which states: "When compared only with ultra napkins of 280 mm length and 105 mm back width." Making comparisons against products in a different segment is deemed unfair and misleading, and because the comparison was not made between products of a similar size, the complaint was upheld.

Health drink Complan's ad was under the scanner, too. The TVC claims: "Children who drink Complan grow two times faster than children who drink other health drinks." But because this claim was substantiated through independent clinical research, this complaint was not upheld. However, the comparison chart between Complan and non-Complan drinkers is found likely to mislead consumers (in the sense of Complan being superior on the basis of its main ingredient, Milk Solids). Hence, this particular complaint was upheld.

In the education sector, Noesis Education and Management Services was pulled up for its ad which made the following claims: 'Biggest in India, attended by 1,200 students at a time', 'Do not miss out on being trained by the best subject experts from all over the country' and 'High quality contents from bestselling authors, rank holders and subject matter experts.' In the absence of comments from the advertiser, the CCC concluded that the claims mentioned in the ad were not substantiated. Hence, the complaint was upheld.

In the healthcare and pharma sector, Pfizer's ad for Gelusil Antacid was questioned. As per the complaint, the TVC shows a boy running along a parked vehicle, using a sharp article scratching the vehicle, possibly scraping the paint and even denting the body. The question asked is: "Does this make your Heart burn?" followed by "Gelusil be used to avoid heart burn and acidity." The CCC concluded that the depiction of the young boy vandalising a car is likely to encourage minors to emulate such acts. Also, according to the authorities, the careless use of sharp objects could lead to cuts or other injuries. The complaint was, therefore, upheld.

The TVC for Eureka Forbes' Aquasure water purifier claimed that the product provides the 'World's safest water'. The TVC does not provide any basis, facts or reference to any study or research work which substantiates this claim. The CCC concluded that whilst the water emanating from Aquasure water purifier is safe, the claim of being the 'World's safest water' is a misleading one. The complaint was thus upheld.

The CCC also received a complaint against the leaflet for Eureka Forbes' Aquasure Xtra water purifier, which makes comparisons and propagates false statements about Pureit products, Classic and Compact. The tabular format compares the product features and puts a question mark against Pureit products. The CCC concluded that by doing so, the ad serves to create doubts in the minds of the consumer. Since the leaflet contravened the ASCI code, the complaint was upheld.

During November and December 2011, the CCC also received complaints against Cadbury- Bournville, Piramal Healthcare's Supractiv Complete, Jockey, MetLife India Insurance Company, ad promos of CID, Fastrack watches, Killer Deodorant, Wild Stone Deodorant, Tata Docomo, Colgate Palmolive, Dulux Paints and Santoor Soap, amongst others. As these ads did not contravene ASCI's codes or guidelines, the complaints against them were not upheld.

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