Advertising sector watchdog ASCI upheld complaints against 89 misleading advertisements in April, including those of Tata Steel, Yamaha Motor, Xiaomi and Himalaya Drug company. The Customer Complaints Council (CCC) of Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) received 162 complaints during the month. It upheld 24 in the healthcare category, 34 in education, 20 in food and beverages, two in personal care and nine in other categories. From the total of 101 advertisements picked by ASCI’s suo moto surveillance, complaints against 68 advertisements were upheld.
Of the advertisements upheld, 61 were complained against by the general public or by industry members, 12 cases were informally resolved wherein the advertisements were voluntarily withdrawn and complaints against 21 advertisements were upheld by the CCC. It upheld claims against Himalaya Drug Company’s youth eternity under eye cream advertisement as inadequately substantiated and misleading by exaggeration.
“The advertisement’s claims, “reduces crow’s feet, wrinkles, fine lines in four weeks,” “reduces dark circles and under eye pigmentation”, and “antioxidants help manage puffy morning eyes”, were inadequately substantiated and are misleading by exaggeration,” it said. The advertisement regulator also found Chinese handset maker Xiaomi’s advertisement claims unsubstantiated and misleading by gross exaggeration. “The advertisement’s claim, “biggest sale ever in the history of India. 3,00,000+ units gone in < three minutes”, was not substantiated with any verifiable supporting data or with an independent third party audit or verification certificate, and is misleading by gross exaggeration,”it said.
It noted that confectioner maker Perfetti Van Melle’s Chupa Chup Sour Strip and Sour Bite advertisement fetaured dangerous acts which are likely to encourage minors to emulate such acts in a manner which could cause harm or injury. “These depictions refer to dangerous practices without justifiable reason, manifest a disregard for safety and encourage negligence,” it said.
Similarly, it found Yamaha Motor’s advertisement where the protagonist is shown performing a wheelie as “a dangerous practice, manifests disregard for safety and encourages negligence”. On Tata Steel’s Tata Pipes advertisement, it said, “The advertisement’s claims, ‘say no to plastic’ and ‘let’s join hands against the plastic menace’, are likely to mislead consumers to believe, without any justifiable basis, that all type of plastic is bad and should be banned, thereby denigrating the entire category of plastics.”
“The claims are misleading by exaggeration of the issue related to plastic. The advertisement exploits consumers’ lack of knowledge and confers an artificial advantage upon the advertiser (for the advertiser’s product plumbing and irrigation pipes), so as to suggest that a better bargain is offered than is truly the case,” it added. It also said that several advertisements used logos of Ayush or FSSAI in their communication, which were considered to be inappropriate as all Ayush products in the market are required to have approval from the state licensing authorities.