The independent Consumer Complaints Council evaluated 385 advertisements, of which complaints against 344 advertisements were upheld
Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) investigated complaints against 564 advertisements out of which 179 ads were withdrawn by the advertisers when contacted by ASCI. The independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI evaluated 385 advertisements, of which complaints against 344 advertisements were upheld. Interestingly, out of 344 ads, 259 were from the education sector, 50 from the healthcare sector, and eight ads were from food and beverages (F&B), and personal care. While 19 belonged to the ‘others’ category.
According to Rohit Gupta, chairman, ASCI, consequences of misleading advertising are grave, not only for the public but also for advertisers as it damages their reputation and breaks consumers’ trust in their products. “ASCI encourages advertisers to follow the ASCI Code for self-regulation in advertising and Guidelines for Food and Beverages sector in particular so that all stakeholder interests are taken care of,” he added.
According to the ASCI, several brands in the (F&B) sector made comparative claims with respect to product composition, taste preferences, health benefits or market leadership. Many of the claims were not adequately substantiated. For instance, a leading dairy brand presented their butter cookies to be superior due to the presence of 25% butter and 0% vegetable oil. However, the ad also claimed that “other” butter cookies contain only 0.3% to 3% butter and 20% to 22% Vegetable Oil without presenting any verifiable evidence.
ASCI continues to receive consumer complaints regarding misleading advertisements in the food and beverages sector. One complaint was against a brand positioned to be for diabetics and pre-diabetics. The CCC opined that even though the product contained low GI sugar, it still was sugar and should not have been positioned “diabetes friendly” as it was likely to do more harm. Similarly, an instant noodle brand did not mention in their communication if the noodles were fried or not, as required by FSSAI.
Established in 1985, ASCI was created for the cause of self- regulation in advertising ensuring the protection of the interest of consumers. ASCI looks into complaints across all media such as print, TV, radio, hoardings, SMS, emailers, internet, website, product packaging, brochures, promotional material and point of sale material etc.