Education and healthcare sector accounted for the maximum number of complaints
During the third quarter, complaints regarding surrogate advertising also picked up post the IPL
Between October and December, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) investigated 1885 complaints originating from 1,230 advertisements. On receipt of the communication from ASCI, 251 of these advertisements were withdrawn/ amended by the advertisers. From the remaining advertisements, ASCI’s independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 902 advertisements – 582 were from the education sector, 128 from healthcare, 64 from food and beverages, 25 from personal care, 99 from other categories and four that amounted to surrogate advertising; complaints against 77 advertisements were not upheld as these advertisements were not found to be in violation of the ASCI code.
Some of the themes that emerged during the quarter October-December were education (job guarantees, placements, among others) and healthcare (false claims about Covid-19 cures and preventions) advertising. Other complaints included those against brands issuing comparative advertisements while prominent cases against honey brands were also in the spotlight. During the third quarter, complaints regarding surrogate advertising also picked up post the IPL.
The third quarter of the financial year involved initiatives leading to positive impact on the industry and stakeholders, Manisha Kapoor, secretary general, ASCI, said. “The quarter recorded the highest numbers in terms of complaints processing, compared to the previous two quarters which were a direct outcome of the pandemic. We hope to continue this momentum in the year ahead,” she added. For instance, in October 2020, ASCI introduced the Covid-19 advisory for advertisers, to protect consumers from being misled during the pandemic. In November 2020, the body introduced guidelines for online gaming for “real-money winnings”, to protect audiences from risks associated with games involving real money. Early September, ASCI expanded its National Advertising Monitoring Service (NAMS) to add digital advertising to its suo motu screening; more than 3,000 digital platforms are being currently tracked.
Overall, in 2020, ASCI looked into 6527 complaints that were registered against 3,315 advertisements, of which 2,357 were upheld. Education (1062) and healthcare (827) topped the list for the year as well. Some of the numbers for other categories, 117 food and beverage advertisements were complained, 63 against personal care, 17 violations of guidelines for brand extension, 22 against real estate, 10 against visa and immigration services and 239 against ads from other categories.