ASCI upheld complaints against misleading ads.

During the month of June 2019, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) investigated complaints against 334 advertisements, of which 106 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers as soon as they received communication from ASCI, the advertising regulation body said on Thursday.

The independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI upheld complaints against 190 advertisements, out of 228 advertisements evaluated by them. Of these 190 advertisements, 112 belonged to the education sector, 40 belonged to the healthcare sector, 10 to personal care, 7 to the food & beverages sector, 5 to the media / broadcasting sector, 5 from consumer durables and 11 were from the ‘others’ category.

The trend of advertisements featuring celebrities without observing guidelines for celebrities in advertising continued. The CCC pulled up a renowned celebrity couple that endorsed an ‘Antibacterial’ paint brand claiming it to be endorsed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

One of the bestseller water purifier brand featuring a Bollywood superstar claimed to instantly incorporate the benefits of copper in the purified water, equating it with water stored overnight in copper vessels.

A well-known celebrity associated with cricket as well as a few cricket players endorsed a detergent product which had a misleading claim of it being consumers’ choice for its product quality. A claim endorsed by a famous cricketer for a gaming app being ‘India’s Favourite Fantasy Cricket Game’ was also not substantiated.

Consumers were quite unhappy about condom advertisements being aired during family viewing hours, violating the advisory by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that requires such advertisements, not suitable for viewing by children, to adhere to watershed hours.

ASCI via its suo motu monitoring pulled up over 100 misleading advertisements from the educational sector.

Direct complaints

Of the 79 advertisements complained against, for 21 cases the advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertiser on receiving communication from ASCI. For the remaining 58 advertisements, complaints against 21 advertisements were upheld by the CCC, five from media/broadcasting sector, three each of the food and beverages sector, education, healthcare, personal care sectors and four from the ‘others’ category. 37 advertisements were not considered to be objectionable or in contravention of the ASCI code.

Suo Motu surveillance by ASCI for misleading advertisements

Out of 255 advertisements that were picked, 85 cases were resolved immediately wherein the advertisers confirmed that the advertisements were being withdrawn post receiving the complaints. Of the 170 advertisements examined by the CCC, complaints against 169 advertisements were upheld. Of these 169 advertisements, 109 belonged to the education sector, 37 advertisements belonged to the healthcare sector, seven belonged to the personal care category, five belonged to consumer durables, four belonged to food and beverage and seven fell in the ‘others’ category.

Moreover, in a recent development, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) renewed their MOU with ASCI, for the fifth consecutive year.

“What ASCI brings to the table is not just the unique expertise in dealing with complaints pertaining to misleading advertisements but also its suo motu capabilities to monitor a huge number of misleading advertisements in Television and print media. ASCI provides a very efficient mechanism for consumers as well as ensures prompt compliance from advertisers, thus reducing the burden on regulators to focus only on persistent violators,” Shweta Purandare, secretary general, ASCI, said.

In another significant development, a recent Delhi court judgement too has re-affirmed the remit of ASCI over non-members. All these developments, including renewal of ASCI’s MoU with DoCA, bode well to ensure ‘More governance’ and for building a strong and cohesive ecosystem in the interest of consumers. ASCI is working closely with DoCA to ensure that this collaboration continues with the formation of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA).

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