Honest advertising & creative advertising are not opposing forces: Manisha Kapoor

ASCI recently launched the Endorser Due Diligence service, paid advisory that is aimed at helping endorsers follow the ASCI Code and abide by the rules laid down in the Consumer Protection Act (2019), which places an obligation on them to undertake due diligence for advertisements they appear in.

ASCI has established a panel of experts from over 20 disciplines, ranging from advertising regulation and legal, Ayurveda, microbiology, electronics, market research, nutrition, dentistry, product formulations, financial services, and so on. The panel will assess the representations, statements, and claims in the advertisement from a consumer and technical perspective, examine the evidence in support of the claim where necessary, and thereby help the endorser conduct their due diligence.

In conversation with Adgully, Manisha Kapoor, Secretary General, ASCI, sheds more light on the Endorser Due Diligence service, how it will help brand endorsers, whether it would impact creativity in ads, focus areas for ASCI and more.

What will ASCI’s Endorser Due Diligence service offer? 

The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, provides for the imposition of fines and suspension of endorsers for appearing in a false or misleading advertisement. However, if the endorser has exercised due diligence to verify the claims made in the advertisement, the Act provides for a waiver of such penalties or suspension. The ASCI Code has always required celebrities to be honest and truthful of the claims that they make while promoting any product or brand. In order to help endorsers fulfil their legal obligation for due diligence, ASCI has introduced the Endorser Due Diligence Service. This service will not only help the endorsers fulfil their legal obligations under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, but will also ensure that consumers who trust such endorsers will not be misled.

How much will it impact the creativity in ads and the impact that it will create on advertisements overall?

Honest advertising and creative advertising are not opposing forces. In fact, both are needed to ensure good advertising. Advertising always has an element of exaggeration and creativity, and that is what makes the messaging stand out. While ASCI always roots for creativity in ads, it should not be at the cost of consumer interest. Claims made in ads need to be true and capable of being substantiated, and endorsers need to be mindful about the same.

What led ASCI to come up with the Endorser Due Diligence service?

In India, we have a very strong celebrity culture, where more than 50% of the advertisements feature celebrities. According to the TAM AdEx report, more than 25% of the advertisements aired on television in 2021 featured celebrities. This shows that the average Indian consumer is heavily exposed to advertisements featuring celebrities. Such endorsers/ celebrities may not be technically qualified to ascertain if the claims or representations they make in ads are capable of substantiation. As the ASCI Code as well as the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 require endorsers to ensure that representations made by them in advertisements are honest and don’t exploit the consumers by making false claims, ASCI decided to offer the service by tapping into its vast expertise and experience in advertising self-regulation.

What are the other areas that ASCI will be focusing on?

ASCI will continue to expand its presence in the digital sector, both in terms of coverage of newer areas such as ed-tech and fin-tech, as well as in deploying technology solutions such as Artificial Intelligence tools for better monitoring. Helping shape the narrative in better ways remains a key priority. We wish to work closely with all our stakeholders – the government, consumers and consumer bodies, the industry and industry bodies to make sure we strengthen self-regulation as it offers the most sustainable mechanism for consumer protection when it comes to advertising.

Who were the brand endorsers/ legal/ PR approached for bringing this to action?

The Endorser Diligence Service was developed through extensive consultation over a period of time with stakeholders, including advertisers and talent management agencies. 


News in the domain of Advertising, Marketing, Media and Business of Entertainment

More in Advertising