ASCI to further strengthen the advertising ecosystem in 2020 with new guidelines
During the month of October 2019, ASCI investigated complaints against 344 advertisements, of which 80 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers on receipt of communication from ASCI. The independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI evaluated 264 advertisements, of which complaints against 137 advertisements were upheld. Of these 137 advertisements, 89 belonged to the education sector, 29 belonged to the healthcare sector, four to personal care, two to the food & beverages sector, and 13 were from the ‘others’ category.
In the CCC deliberations, the most common reason for upholding complaints was that the advertisements were misleading and exploited consumers’ lack of knowledge. This was followed by violations of ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions and Programs. The other reasons for complaints to be upheld were superlative claims and unsubstantiated claims of having won awards.
Among various advertisements that were examined, the CCC observed that a top cricketer celebrity was endorsing “Instant payment” claim being made by a well-known online platform for sale of second hand cars. An international automotive company, in their radio ad implied that consumers should not care for traffic rules hence, showing a complete disregard for road safety.In the personal care category, a renowned personal care company founded by a beauty expert, mentioned SPF values that they could not substantiate by providing in vivo support data. A widely used sanitary napkin brand advertised its product to have long lasting cooling effect, which was unsubstantiated. Advertisements by hospitals offering IVF treatments were pulled up for making misleading claims regarding their success rates. An internet restaurant company’s claim of being the “World's largest internet restaurant company” was considered to be misleading in the absence of relevant verifiable support data.
The CCC also came across a significant number of advertisement pertaining to the education sector with the advertisers making unsubstantiated and superlative claims of being the most trusted, No. 1 or winning awards.
Rohit Gupta, Chairman, ASCI, remarked, “Building on the momentum of the fine work done by the ASCI Secretariat in the past few years, for the year 2020 our resolve is to further strengthen the advertising ecosystem. This would be by means of new initiatives, enhanced processes and new guidelines that we plan to roll out in the coming months. These initiatives would not only benefit consumers, but would also result in enhanced participation of industry members in effectively practising self-regulation in advertising.”
EDUCATION: 89 advertisements complained against
- Suo Motu Surveillance by ASCI (89 advertisements)
HEALTHCARE: 29 advertisements complained against
PERSONAL CARE: Four advertisements complained against
- Suo Motu Surveillance by ASCI (four advertisements)
FOOD AND BEVERAGES: -Two advertisements complained against
- Suo Motu Surveillance by ASCI (two advertisements)
OTHERS: 13 advertisements complained against
The advertisements given below were complained against by the general public or by industry members. Of the 149 advertisements complained against, 11 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertiser on receiving communication from ASCI. For the remaining 138 advertisements, complaints against 12 advertisements were upheld by the CCC. Five advertisements belonged to the Healthcare sector and seven from the ‘Others’ category. 26 advertisements were not considered to be objectionable or in contravention of the ASCI code.
Following advertisements in the healthcare sector were found to be misleading that exploit consumers’ lackof knowledge and could lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
Aanjan Path Labs & Allergy Testing Center, Sangam Ayurveda (1 Shot Dandruff Killer), and Ayushveda Innovations (Vindab Herbal Tea).
The following two advertisements were considered to be, prima facie, in violation of The Drugs & Magic Remedies Act/ The Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, and are being referred to the Ministry of AYUSH:
Orison Pharma International
· Enough vigour and vitality is required for better intercourse
(Clear Heart Plus)
· Get rid of Heart Blockage and cholesterol through natural components.
The CCC found that the claims made in the following advertisements were misleading, exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge and can lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
- CARS24 Services (cars24.com): The advertisement’s claim “Get Instant Payment”, featuring cricketer MS Dhoni was considered misleading. It was observed that the advertiser offers both, an “instant payment” facility and a “deferred payment” facility for sale of cars. However, as per the FAQs provided by the advertiser if a customer avails the “instant payment” facility a fee of Rs 1,000 is levied. The advertisement creates an impression that every sale of car would be eligible for “Instant payment” which is not the case.Additionally there was no adequate evidence provided of the celebrities due diligence, hence violating ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising as well.
- Kia Motors India (Kia Seltos): The radio advertisement’s claims “He doesn’t play by the rules. He plays with them.” and “Inspired by the badass in you.” imply that one shouldn’t care about the (traffic) rules. It manifests a disregard for safety and encourages negligence.
- Asian Paints (Asian Paints Royale Health Shield): The television advertisement’s claim “Anti-bacterial paint with Silver Ion Technology as recommended by the Indian Medical Association” was examined by the CCC. The claim “Antibacterial paint” and endorsement by IMA granting usage of the IMA recommendation of the technology with a mandatory disclaimer (Silver Ion Technology as recommended* by the Indian Medical Association) were substantiated. However, in the TVC, presentation of the product, and the word “Indian Medical Association” was more prominent and the critical disclaimer wording “Silver Ion Technology recommended* by the ….” was downplayed in terms of font size, font format and weightage. The hold duration for the disclaimers regarding product efficacy was not adequate. The advertisement contravened ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers.
- Onsite Electro Services (OnsiteGo 15 Months Total Protection Plan for Mobiles): The listing’s claims on an e-commerce portal, “Total Protection For Mobiles” and “Total Protection Plan for Mobiles” were misleading as the said plan was only applicable to the screen damage and it was not mentioned upfront. The advertisement also contravened ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers.
- Policy Bazaar Insurance Web Aggregator: The website advertisement’s claim “100% guaranteed returns” was misleading. It was observed that advertisement was of 100% guaranteed returns on certain products, however, the details of such products was not accompanying the claim. The CCC did not agree with the advertiser’s contention that if a said product is approved by the IRDAI then its features which may include “100% guaranteed returns” may also be approved by the IRDAI. The advertiser failed to submit any evidence of such “IRDAI approval of advertising claim” for any particular product providing either 100% guaranteed return or returns higher than FD.TheCCC opined that the said claim should only accompany specific product and cannot be used as a “blanket claim” or a generic positioning of their service.The CCC also noted that it is incorrect to compare a life cover product/ policy with a Fixed Deposit product, the way it was being projected in the advertisement. The advertisement contravened ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers.
- Xrbia Developers (Xrbia Vangani): The print advertisement’s claim as translated from Marathi “House in Mumbai for Rs. 6.42 lakhs” was misleading as the advertiser was promoting the said “apartment flats” in Vangani (Badlapur) and not in Mumbai.
- Sushma Buildtech: The website and hoarding advertisement’s claim “The Largest Real Estate Developer Of The Region” was not substantiated as the advertiser did not provide any verifiable comparative data versus other similar real estate developers in the region, to prove that they are larger than all the rest in real estate development, or through an independent third-party validation.The source for the claim was not indicated in the advertisement.
Suo Motu Surveillance by ASCI for misleading advertisements
The advertisements listed below were picked up through ASCI’s Suo Motu surveillance of Print and TV media through the National Advertisement Monitoring Services (NAMS) project. Out of 195 advertisements that were picked, 69 cases were resolved immediately, wherein the advertisers confirmed that the advertisements were being withdrawn post receiving the complaints. Of the 126 advertisements examined by the CCC, complaints against 125 advertisements were upheld. Of these, 125 advertisements, 89 belonged to the Education sector, 24 advertisements belonged to the Healthcare sector, four belonged to the Personal Care category, two belonged to the F&B category and six fell in the “Others” category.