ASCI investigated complaints against 279 advertisements, of which 101 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) investigated complaints against 279 advertisements in February 2020, of which 101 advertisements were withdrawn by the advertisers on receipt of communication from ASCI. The independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI evaluated the remaining 178 advertisements, out of which complaints against 171 advertisements were upheld. Of these 171 advertisements, 77 belonged to the education sector, 59 belonged to the healthcare sector, six to real estate, five to visa/immigration services, five to personal care, four to the food and beverages sector, and 15 were from the ‘others’ category.
According to Shweta Purandare, secretary general, ASCI, the guidelines for Usage of Awards/ Rankings in advertisements that were introduced in January 2020 are proving to be a timely step in the right direction. “We are educating the advertisers that self-sponsored awards and ranking are on thin ice and will not hold any more. They need to know the rigor expected in claim substantiation when referring to awards and rankings in their advertisements.”
For ASCI, advertisements featuring celebrities are increasingly falling short of adhering to “Guidelines for Celebrities in advertising.” For instance, a gamified school education app which featured a bollywood actor was claiming it to be the biggest scholarship exam, and promising prize money worth up to Rs One crore was pulled up by CCC. Moreover, another advertisement of herbal drops endorsed by a Bollywood actor made a misleading claim that it can save or protect from diseases by immunity enhancement.
The CCC also upheld a complaint against an auto company, who in a TV advertisement, depicted a pillion riding barber shaving the rider on a running motorcycle. It showed a dangerous act with disregard for safety and challenged safe driving requirements. The advertisement contravened ASCI’s Guidelines for Advertisements depicting Automotive Vehicles. Furthermore, several advertisements from healthcare as well as the educational sector wherein the advertisers claimed to have leadership positions or boasted about the awards they have won but failed to substantiate it with authentic and credible supporting ranking data or awards data.
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.