afaqs! news bureau
Advertising

ASCI comes down hard on advertisements violating its Code for Self-Regulation

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) released a press release on February 20, 2020, stating that it had investigated complaints against 408 advertisements in November 2019, out of which, advertisers withdrew 137 advertisements upon receipt of communication from ASCI.

Established in 1985, ASCI is a self-regulatory body of the advertising industry in India. It aims to protect the interests of the consumers by ensuring that advertisements adhere to its Code for Self-Regulation. It covers advertisements across all traditional advertising channels and on the internet as well.

The self-regulatory body's independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) evaluated 271 advertisements out of which, the complaints against 248 advertisements were upheld. In its press release, it mentioned the categories to which these 248 advertisements belonged:

159 belonged to the education sector

44 belonged to the healthcare sector

8 belonged to the personal care sector

4 belonged to the food and beverages sector

33 belonged to the 'others' category

According to the CCC, 'making misleading claims' was the number one reason for it to evaluate advertisements. It also upheld complaints against two advertisements for 'encouraging disregard to safety'.

A TVC had violated ASCI's Guidelines for Advertisements depicting Automotive Vehicles because it showed a pillion rider shaving a uniformed policeman on his way to work; It was deemed inappropriate. Another complaint was against a drama serial; its protagonist committing self-harm by stifling her neck with a cloth.

ASCI also found several advertisements featuring celebrities that made misleading claims. It mentioned three such advertisements. One belonged to a popular diagnostic company, one to a toothpaste manufacturer and the third, to an inverter battery maker.

The ads investigated were divided into 'Direct Complaints' and ‘Suo Motu surveillance by ASCI’:

1. Education: 159 advertisements

Direct complaints (two advertisements)

Suo Motu surveillance by ASCI (157 advertisements)

2. Healthcare: 44 advertisements

Direct complaints (two advertisements)

Suo Motu surveillance by ASCI (42 advertisements)

3. Personal Care: eight advertisements

Direct complaints (five advertisements)

Suo Motu surveillance by ASCI (three advertisements)

4. Food and Beverages: four advertisements

Direct complaints (two advertisements)

Suo Motu surveillance by ASCI (two advertisements)

5. Others: 33 advertisements

Direct complaints (11 advertisements)

Suo Motu surveillance by ASCI (22 advertisements)

Shweta Purandare, Secretary-General, ASCI said “Consumers are exposed to a significant amount of advertising on a daily basis. Children and youth are thereby greatly influenced, not only for the product choices, but also by what is being depicted in the advertisements and celebrity endorsements. Responsible advertising means depicting safe practices and not encouraging negligence. It is also the responsibility of celebrities to check the authenticity of the claims they endorse and serve their role as informed influencers.”