ASCI expands horizon; bats for greater inclusion in advertising

ASCI updates the code to include issues of gender identity, sexual orientation, body type, age or physical and mental conditions

Consumers have called out ads that mock or deride people, or portray them in unfavourable ways and it is only right that advertising becomes more inclusive and sensitive to this
Consumers have called out ads that mock or deride people, or portray them in unfavourable ways and it is only right that advertising becomes more inclusive and sensitive to this.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has updated its code to add greater inclusivity in advertising depictions. The ASCI code, which already required ads to not deride anyone on the basis of race, caste, creed, gender or nationality, has added new areas of possible discrimination or derision such as gender identity and sexual orientation, body shape, age, and physical and mental conditions. Advertisements that mock or deride anyone on these bases will now be considered in violation of the ASCI Code.

Consumers have called out ads that mock or deride people, or portray them in unfavourable ways and it is only right that advertising becomes more inclusive and sensitive to this, Manisha Kapoor, CEO and secretary general, ASCI, said. “It is not acceptable, for example, to associate characteristics such as sluggishness with a certain body shape. Similarly, to deride someone with a physical or mental ailment, or their gender identity would now violate the ASCI code. With this change, ASCI hopes to ensure that advertising becomes more inclusive and sensitised to all sections of our country, and does not perpetuate certain portrayals that have no place in a progressive society,” she added.

This clause is now updated as part of Chapter 3 pertaining to advertisements that cause harm. As per the amendment, the clause now states that, “No advertisement shall be permitted which (subsection b) derides any individual or groups on the basis of race, caste, color, religion, gender, body shape, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental conditions or nationality.”

ASCI aims to ensure that its guidelines keep pace with the ever-evolving society. As consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about unfavourable depictions of certain sections of society, this change ensures that advertising too keeps pace with these rightful expectations. The changes to the ASCI code were approved by the board recently.

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