The movies aim to curtail misleading claims, especially from educational institutes and healthcare services
The Advertisement Standards Council of India (ASCI) on Monday introduced guidelines for usage of Awards/Rankings in advertisements. These new guidelines will come into effect from February 1, 2020. According to the industry body, it has become increasingly common for advertisers to make claims in advertising for their products and services based on awards and rankings received. This misleads consumers sometimes into believing that an award or ranking which is given to a brand, product, institute or service makes it superior or more authentic.“ The guidelines will also assist the advertiser to understand the rigour required for claim substantiation and pitfalls to avoid so that their claims pass the muster with ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC),” the body stated.
To validate their claims in advertisements, brands and services need to ensure that the accrediting bodies involved in disseminating or presenting awards or rankings are authentic and credible. The guidelines are applicable to all advertisers and would particularly be relevant for healthcare services and the educational sector which tends to use such superiority or leadership claims. As per the industry body, in the health services sector, misleading claims about rankings and awards lure patients in choosing the service provider and could hamper patient health, quality of care received and result in financial losses. “Claims such as ranking first in the state or in India, receiving an award for being the most trusted or award of excellence, listed in some book of world records etc., makes consumers believe that the product or service is recognised and this may not be true. The guidelines are a step towards ensuring that advertisers are cognizant of the serious impact of deceptive advertising,” Rohit Gupta, chairman, ASCI, said.
As per ASCI, claims stated needs to be based on or supported by independent research or assessment, the source and date of such independent research or assessment must be indicated in the advertisement. It further stated that ads shall not, without the permission from the person, firm or institution under reference, contain any reference to such person, firm or institution which confers an unjustified advantage to the product advertised or which tends to bring the person, firm or institution into ridicule or disrepute. Also, ads disclose all material facts which if suppressed or distorted would mislead the consumer by implication or omission.
Lastly, it stated that where doctor, patient or general public perception is incorporated in the evaluation process, the study should be collected by an independent reputable agency, the sample size and spread, target group definition, sampling method, and the field control procedures should be clearly specified. The questionnaire and data collection records should be available to the body for review.