Playing on people's anxieties about the virus and its spread, misleading products have cropped up. Here's a look at the gems.
Coronavirus or COVID – 19 is a pandemic. The total number of positive cases worldwide has crossed 182,000 and 125 in India. While governments scramble to keep the spread of the disease at bay, anti coronavirus products have begun to mushroom.
The most famous being Arihant, a manufacturing company. It had advertised an anti-coronavirus mattress for Rs 15, 000. The tagline read 'An India which sleeps on anticoronavirus mattress will move forward.' The mattress came with a 5-year warranty and was available on the e-commerce site Amazon as well.
The owner of the brand spoke to The Print and said, “Nothing can go inside the mattress. It is anti-fungal and anti-allergic, dust mite proof and waterproof. We have been producing this product for ages.”
On the other hand, yoga guru turned entrepreneur Baba Ramdev had said that giloy (a herb) is effective in preventing coronavirus. However, no effective vaccine has been developed for COVID -19 yet.
Such products or statements don't help at all but are built to play around the fears and anxieties of people amid the virus spread.
Shweta Purandare, the Secretary-General of The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) thinks that there is widespread anxiety among the public at large and it is getting intensified with the surge of misinformation, causing even more confusion and fear.
She says, "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A recent ad about an “anti-coronavirus” mattress has already been withdrawn after ASCI’s intervention.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 web-sites and not get carried away by exaggerated claims. They can also approach ASCI to register their complaint if they come across any suspect claims."
However, for every such product or statement, several other brands are taking steps to spread awareness about the campaign. They are taking to social media platforms to talk about the virus and the precautions you must take to prevent its spread.
Lifebuoy, the soap brand from Hindustan Unilever had put out a print ad telling the readers to wash their hands regardless of the brand they use. It was a public service message to fight the spread of the virus.
The virus has also gone on to disrupt the day to day workings of industries with several companies instructing their employees to work from home. The media and entertainment industries has been affected too with several independent bodies coming together to stop shooting till March 31, 2020.
A press statement by the Indian Motion Picture Producers' Association (IMPPA) said, "In view of the epidemic spread of Corona COVID-19 throughout the world, including India, an urgent joint meeting of IMPPA, WIFPA (Western India Film Producers' Association), IFTPC (Indian Film and Television Producers Council), IFTDA (Indian Film and Television Directors' Association), and FWICE (Federation of Western India Cine Employees) was held. The meeting held on March 15 decided to stop shootings of films, TV serials, web series and all other entertainment, including digital video formats, from March 19 till March 31, 2020."
Also, sporting events across the globe have been affected with them either being called off or suspended. The Indian Premier League (IPL), the world's most prestigious twenty20 cricket league has been postponed to April 15, 2020 from its original date of March 29, 2020.
With more people working from home, there is bound to be an increase in the number of food delivery orders which has prompted several restaurants to offer contactless delivery wherein the ordered food isn't touched by anyone to prevent the spread of COVID – 19.