The advisory has been released following various misleading claims by advertisers around coronavirus cures and preventions
The advisory is aimed at safeguarding consumers from the plethora of misleading pandemic-related claims
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has announced an advisory to advertisers so that they can adhere better to ASCI code on misleading advertisements around Covid-19. The advisory has been released following various misleading claims by advertisers around coronavirus cures and preventions.
The ASCI has advised that advertisements should avoid claiming destruction or removal of any virus other than coronavirus in order not to violate provision of ASCI code’s clauses 1.4 (advertisements shall neither distort facts nor mislead consumers by means of implications and omissions) and 1.5 (advertisements shall not be so framed as to abuse the trust of consumers or exploit their lack of experience and knowledge). In case advertisers choose to claim removal of any other virus in their advertisement, they should include a disclaimer such as ‘claim not applicable to coronavirus’ or a similar message with the disclaimer size and position as per the disclaimer guideline of ASCI.
Further, it also stated that advertisers are advised to be particularly careful whilst making, directly or indirectly, claims to reduce the chances of becoming infected with coronavirus or gain immunity against it. Advertisers should be able to substantiate claims of immunity against or treatment for coronavirus supported by either technical support recognised or approved by health authorities such as WHO, ICMR, MoHFW, AYUSH, DCGI, CDC (USA), or health organisations of similar stature or by well recognised medical/technical literature or by regulatory-approved clinical research conducted by a recognised medical institute/laboratory.
Moreover, products which are not internally consumed or applied to bodies, that is, not requiring license under the Drug & Cosmetic Act, should be particularly cautious while making claims regarding prevention of, immunity against or treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19) unless they have claim-support data required as stated above. Advertisers of Ayurvedic, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy products and services are advised to abide by the Order of Ministry of AYUSH dated April 1, 2020, on coronavirus advertisements.
We want advertisers to be more mindful in creating advertisements and making claims related to Covid-19, Manisha Kapoor, general secretary, ASCI, said. “Given the pandemic and the extended lockdowns, people are obviously concerned. Manufacturers and brands have also responded to consumer needs arising out of the pandemic. However, we want these products and advertisements to stick to claims and promises that are well backed by adequate substantiation. The advisory to advertisers is meant to safeguard consumers as well as to ensure the highest standards for advertising. The pandemic is a difficult time for everyone, even brands, but it cannot be a platform to mislead consumers,” she added.