Apple showing ‘iPhone 7’ as ‘iphone 7 plus variant’ is among 143 advertisements dubbed as misleading by regulator ASCI, which also pulled up Coca-Cola India, Bharti Airtel and others for such campaigns. Mobikwik, HUL, Nivea, Amul, Opera, Standard Chartered Bank and Pernod Ricard are among the companies against which a total of 191 complaints were received by Customer Complaints Council (CCC) of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) for January. ASCI upheld a total of 102 complaints in healthcare category, 20 in education, seven in personal care, six in food and beverages and eight advertisements from other categories.
According to ASCI, Apple India was found using a wrong image in its advertisement for iPhone 7. “The advertisement text states ‘The amazing iPhone 7 is here’, but shows an image of iPhone 7 Plus variant, which is misleading by ambiguity and implication,” said ASCI. The sector watchdog said although the advertisement had the Apple trademark with ‘iPhone7’ but said it didn’t have any reference to ‘series’ in the advertisement text.
“In absence of any visual of iPhone 7 variant, it was concluded that the advertisement is likely to mislead the consumers about the product advertised and its corresponding features,” it said. Comments from Apple could not be obtained. ASCI also upheld a complaint against Coca-Cola India for Thums Up campaigne, in which the soft drink major has showcased a rider performing a wheelie in normal streets, traffic conditions, right amongst a few people.
“This is contradictory to the disclaimer made in the advertisement –- the actions are for representational purposes alone and must not be copied by viewers… It was concluded that though the overall advertisement is not objectionable, regardless of the disclaimer the specific visual… encourages dangerous practices, manifests a disregard for safety and encourages negligence,” it said. When contacted, a Coca-Cola India spokesperson said: “On receiving feedback, we have on boarded suggestions from ASCI and modified the TV commercial (TVC). The revised TVC has been updated on air and on digital media.”
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Similarly, it has also pulled FMCG major HUL for its advertisement of Rin Antibac, where it had claimed that the detergent powder with Ayurvedic extracts removes germs. However, ASCI said the claim “was not substantiated, and is misleading by implication and exaggeration as the advertised product does not have the property to provide germ protection in wear conditions”. Commenting on the matter, a HUL Company Spokesperson said: “We, as a responsible marketer and member of ASCI, have always complied with its guidelines and recommendations. We have suitably modified the said advertisement as per their recommendation.”
Similarly, Standard Chartered Bank’s claim of “up to 10 per cent extra cashback on all spends with your Standard Chartered credit card” was found to be “false and misleading by ambiguity” as the cash back was limited to Rs 10,000 only. When contacted Standard Chartered Bank said: “The up to 10 per cent cash back offer was a campaign launched last year. The cash back cap and all other relevant details were shared with customers over multiple communication channels. However, ASCI felt that we needed to make certain modifications, and we have taken their inputs on board.” The regulator also upheld three complaints against leading telecom operator Bharti Airtel for “misleading” claims for free Calls Local + STD and a free upgrade for Airtel-V Fiber.
“The ad claim, “Free Calls Local + STD” cannot be said free as the prevailing price for data without advertised incentive is less i.e. from the consumer’s point of view, they have to make a payment of Rs 149 to avail this offer although they get only 300MB data versus 500 MB data,” it said However, when contacted Airtel declined to comment. Complaint against Opera Software Asa claim for its mobile browser Opera Mini was also upheld where it had claimed that it saves data cost up to 90 percent while browsing.
“The advertisement’s claim, ‘Saves data cost up to 90 per cent while browsing’, was not substantiated with supporting data and is misleading by exaggeration,” the CCC said. When contacted an Opera spokesperson said:” We adhere to the highest ethical standards and never share any exaggerated or misleading data with our consumers. Hence, our claim of Opera Mini saving up to 90 per cent data in our advertisement, is entirely true. We have proven our claims by internal and external tests from time to time over the years.” Digital payment firm MobiKwik also failed to substantiate its claim of “India’s most secure e-wallet” for Mobikwik E- wallet and found to be “misleading by exaggeration”.
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It also upheld complaint against Gujarat Co-Operative Milk Marketing Federation for ad of Amul Butter where it had claimed it to be a rich source of Vitamin A and stated that “Eat milk with every meal and live every day, worry-free”.
“It was considered the latter part of the statement to be misleading by implication and is encouraging excessive consumption of butter which may not be advisable from the health point of view,” it said.
Similarly, FMCG firm Nivea was also pulled for claims in the commercial of Nivea Protect & Care Deodorant. It was “considered to be misleading by ambiguity and implication that several other major ingredients of Nivea Creme are added to the deodorant product”.