In a press release, the self-regulatory body said 77 advertisements were promptly withdraw after ASCI intervened.
ASCI, the self-regulatory body of the advertising industry in India says in a press release that it investigated complaints against 310 advertisements in December 2019.
Out of the 310 complaints, 77 advertisements were promptly withdrawn on receipt of communication from ASCI. Its independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) evaluated the remaining 223 advertisements out of which complaints against 225 advertisements were upheld.
The self-regulatory body also said that out of these 225 advertisements, advertisements, 124 belonged to the education sector, 66 belonged to the healthcare sector, seven to the food & beverages sector, six to personal care and 22 were from the ‘others’ category.
It also mentioned six ads in particular which flouted the body’s guidelines on self-censorship and were hence investigated.
1. A famous online shopping website was found misleading consumers by advertising a coupon code offering a discount on all orders.
2. Print advertisement of one of the famous alcohol brands in India was upheld because of surrogate advertising and violating ASCI’s guidelines of brand extension products.
3. A widely used toothbrush brand could not substantiate a claim of being India’s No. 1 Toothbrush brand, recommended by dentists.
4. An advertisement featuring a famous Bollywood star endorsing the claim “India's First Hygienic Gym” was found to be misleading.
5. Claims made by an advertiser marketing ayurvedic eye drops co-promoted with a movie release and endorsed by the two protagonist actresses in the movie were not substantiated.
6. Another advertisement by the same advertiser for women’s health tonic featuring a yesteryear Bollywood celebrity was found to be misleading.
Shweta Purandare, Secretary-General, ASCI, says in the press release, “Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, there is widespread anxiety, confusion and fear amongst the public at large. ASCI is monitoring advertisements that are making unsubstantiated and opportunistic claims."
She continued, "We have issued notices to advertisers for immediate suspension of such advertisements pending investigation. ASCI’s active Social Media listening, as well as availability of the WhatsApp number 7710012345 during the lockdown period, have been key in enabling ASCI to act swiftly.”
We had also spoken to her earlier about anti Coronavirus ads that had cropped up trying to take advantage of people’s anxieties. She had said, “Unfortunately, some opportunistic brands are using fear-mongering tactics to push their products by making over the top / unsubstantiated claims."
Purandare also said that in exceptional circumstances, when it appears that an advertisement is in serious breach of the ASCI Code and has the effect of causing public harm, then the ASCI would direct the advertiser to suspend the ad.
A recent ad about an “anti-coronavirus” mattress has already been withdrawn after ASCI’s intervention.
She continued, "However, consumers have to use their own judgement, refer to information from authentic sources and websites and not get carried away by exaggerated claims. They can also approach ASCI to register their complaint if they come across any suspect claims."