The ASCI investigated complaints against 251 advertisements in May 2020, of which 23 advertisements were withdrawn by the advertisers
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) investigated complaints against 251 advertisements in May 2020, of which 23 advertisements were withdrawn by the advertisers on receipt of communication from ASCI. Of the complaints, other than those against the withdrawn advertisements, the independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI evaluated the 228 advertisements, out of which complaints against 221 advertisements were upheld. Of these 221 advertisements, 162 belonged to the healthcare sector, 47 belonged to the education sector, one to the food and beverages sector, one to the personal care sector, and 10 were from the ‘others’ category.
According to ASCI, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to several advertisers in the healthcare category making false claims about cures and preventions following which the Ministry of AYUSH sought help from ASCI to alert it about such advertisements. In the months of April and May over 100 such cases were flagged to the regulator. A number of advertisements highlight that they can “Stop Corona” while some have even offered a “Coronavirus Prevention Pack” to users. Some offer ayurvedic prevention from coronavirus, and others claim to “boost immunity” to fight viruses.
Meanwhile, this period also happened to be the run-up to the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, which came into force on July 20 to further provide for steep fines for errant marketers. According to Rohit Gupta, chairman, ASCI, the council believes in the effectiveness of co-regulation – essentially self-regulation acting in alignment with government laws and guidelines. “The new law is a tremendous opportunity for the advertising industry and brands to raise their standards even higher and to put the consumer firmly at the centre of their efforts. It paves the way for advertising that is more informative and honest while introducing serious disincentives for violators,” he added. With the new law in place, ASCI also claims to be strengthening its monitoring mechanism by including digital media in it.