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HUL, Republic TV, Times Now among 590 ads under ASCI scanner

In August and September 2018, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) investigated complaints against 590 advertisements. For 131 advertisements, the advertisers promptly ensured corrective action as soon as the complaints were received. ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 355 advertisements from a total of459 advertisements evaluated by them.  

Of the 355 advertisements wherein the complaints were upheld, 201 belonged to the education sector, 62 to the healthcare sector, 24 to the food & beverages category, 24 to personal care, seven violated BARC Guidelines and 37 were from the ‘Others’ category.         

The most common reason for upholding complaints were unsubstantiated claims in the Education sector such as providing “100% placement”, “guaranteed immigration”, “No.1”. This was followed by exaggeration of product efficacy and exploiting consumers’ lack of knowledge, violations of Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising, BARC Guidelines, Drugs and Magic Remedies (DMR) Regulations. Many of the claims were misleading and likely to lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 

Amongst various advertisements that were examined, the CCC observed that a renowned celebrity was found endorsing a well-known air hostess training institute claiming to be “World’s No. 1 institute”. Another advertisement had a popular celebrity endorsing an anti-pimple product promising pimple free skin, whereas this claim was inadequately substantiated and misleading by exaggeration. Furthermore, a famous celebrity couple endorsed a soap brand; the advertisement implies that the product has the effectiveness of turmeric, whereas the mechanism of action is due to another antimicrobial ingredient. These advertisements contravened ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising. 

With respect to a large number of misleading advertisements pertaining to Educational Sector, D Shivakumar, Chairman, ASCI, said, “Every Indian sees education as a visa to a better future. Many parts of the education eco-system are making extravagant claims and the promises are unwarranted. This time CCC upheld complaints against 201 advertisements in the education sector for reasons that include, making unsubstantiated and misleading claims such as India’s No.1, Highest package, job guarantee, etc. The advertisers have a responsibility to practice self-regulation in their advertising and under no circumstance make tall claims, misrepresent or misinform the public. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has also offered their wholehearted support to ASCI to tackle the menace of misleading advertisements in the Educational Sector.” 

Education: Total of 201 ads complained against 

  • Direct Complaints (49 advertisements)
  • Suo Moto Surveillance by ASCI (152 advertisements)

Healthcare: Total of 62 ads complained against 

  • Direct Complaints (16 advertisements)
  • Suo Moto Surveillance by ASCI (46 advertisements)

Food & Beverages: Total of 24 ads complained against 

  • Direct Complaints (10 advertisements)
  • Suo Moto Surveillance by ASCI (14 advertisements)

Personal Care: Total of 24 ads complained against 

  • Direct Complaints (17 advertisements)
  • Suo Moto Surveillance by ASCI (7 advertisements)

Violation of BARC Guidelines: Total of 7 ads complained against 

  • Direct Complaints (7 advertisements)

Others: Total of 37 ads complained against 

  • Direct Complaints (18 advertisements)
  • Suo Moto Surveillance by ASCI (19 advertisements)

Direct complaints 

The advertisements given below were complained against by general public or by industry members. Of the 267 ads, 51 cases were informally resolved, meaning the advertisements were voluntarily withdrawn by the advertisers immediately post receiving the complaints. Complaints against 117 advertisements were upheld by the CCC. Of the total of 117 ads, 49 belonged to the Education category, 17 to Personal care sector, 16 belonged to Healthcare sector, 10 from the Food & Beverages category, seven violated BARC guidelines and 18 belonged to the ‘Others’ category

The following advertisements were violation of ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising. The advertisers did not provide any evidence to show that the celebrities did due diligence prior to lending their name for the endorsements, to ensure that claims made in the advertisements are capable of substantiation. 

  1. Frankfinn Aviation Services Pvt. Ltd. (Frankfinn Institute of Air Hostess Training): The advertisement’s claim featuring Alia Bhat, “World’s No 1 Airhostess Training Institute”, was not substantiated with verifiable comparative data of the advertiser’s institute and other similar institutes worldwide or through third party validation to prove its leadership position (No.1). The claim is misleading by exaggeration and is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
  1. L’Oréal India P. Ltd (Garnier Men Acnofight Facewash): The advertisement featured celebrity Tiger Shroff. The claims, “Want to win the pimple fight? Then why soap, switch to Garnier Men AcnoFight facewash” and “Stay Germ free, Stay Pimple free”, were inadequately substantiated and are misleading by exaggeration. 
  1. Hindustan Unilever Ltd (Sunsilk Think and Long): In the advertisement, celebrity Alia Bhatt was seen endorsing the shampoo with claims, “Sunsilk thick and long with keratin yogurt”, and “Two times thicker looking hair”. While the advertiser substantiated the claims, the disclaimer, “Based on lab test with Sunsilk Thick and Long shampoo and conditioner verses unclean hair”, qualifying the comparative claim “Two times thicker looking hair”, was not positioned in close proximity of the claim. 
  1. Medlife International Private Limited (Medlife Pharmacy): For the claim, “India’s Most trusted Pharmacy” the advertiser did not provide any market research data, third party validation or comparative data (between the advertiser’s pharmacy and other pharmacies selling pharmaceutical products through online portals) to prove that they are the most trusted. The claim is misleading by exaggeration and likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. The advertisement features two celebrities (Boman Irani and Varun Sharma) as well. 
  1. Hindustan Unilever Ltd (Lifebuoy Haldi Soap): The advertisement’s claim, “Lifebuoy Haldi de skin infection ke kitanuon se suraksha” is misleading by ambiguity, implication and omission in the reference to Active Silver being the antimicrobial ingredient. 
  1. Reckitt Benckiser (India) Pvt Ltd (New Veet Nikhaar): In the advertisement, the claim, “With 100% natural Turmeric extracts”, (especially the emphasis on the presence of turmeric extract and in the context of brightening / nikhaar benefits) was considered to be misleading by ambiguity, exaggeration and implication. The celebrity Shraddka Kapoor was seen endorsing the product by claiming “Veet Nikhar for Visibly Brighter skin” which was inadequately substantiated. 

The two advertisements listed below violated Chapter III (Unsafe Practices) of the ASCI Code: 

  1. Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (Mahindra Scorpio): In the advertisement, an SUV was seen driving in the middle of the road on the straight line. As per traffic rules, one must not change lanes or drive on the straight line and the advertisement did not abide by the ASCI Code. This scene in the TVC portrays traffic rule violation, shows a dangerous practice and manifests disregard for safety. It also encourages unsafe or reckless driving which could harm the driver and general public. Furthermore, the visual in the TVC did not have a cautionary message drawing the viewer’s attention to the depiction of stunts. 
  1. Apple India Private Limited (Apple iPhone X): In the advertisement, a male protagonist is seen playing virtual reality game and is typing a message on the iPhone while walking on the road; he subsequently imagines the characters from the game in real life and is seen jumping, kicking and hitting the creatures advancing towards him. All these acts are done by a boy on the road amongst people and moving vehicles. These acts show a dangerous practice without justifiable reason, manifest a disregard for safety and encourage negligence. The actions shown are likely to encourage minors to emulate such acts in a manner which could cause harm or injury.

Education: 

The following advertisements were considered to be misleading and also likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers:

Asian Business School, Singhania University, Nilaai Educational Trust Group of Institutes, Touchstone Educational, EMPI Business School, Kish Academy, Shri Ram Murti Smarak College of Engineering & Technology, Aashvi Academy, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Opulentus Overseas Careers Pvt Ltd, Mind Management Tech, Panache Academy.

Complaints against advertisements of 30 educational institutes listed below are upheld mainly because of unsubstantiated claims and/or misleading claims that they provide 100% placement/ 100% placement assistance and/ or they claim to be the No.1 in their respective fields:

Indian Institute of Finance, Institute of Management Studies, Institute of Management Studies, IMM-FOSTIIMA Business School, Institute of Advance Network Technology (IANT institute), Gaur Hari Singhania Institute  of Management & Research, Brij Education Trust-BIMT Gurgaon, Deen Dayal Upadhya Institute of Management & Higher Studies, Bharitya Vidya Bhavan’s Centre for Communication and Management (BCCM), INDUS University-Indus Institute of Management Studies, Jamia Hamdard, Accurate Group of Institutions Accurate Institute of Advanced Management, Accurate Group of Institutions- Accurate Inst. of Mgt & Technology, Science &Technology Entrepreneurs Park-HBTI – Kanpur, Moti Lal Nehru School of Management, R.L. Institute of Management Studies, Poddar & Management Technical Campus, Institute of  Advanced Mgt & Research (IAMR), Indirapuram Institute of Higher Studies, Indus School of Business Mgt. (Gurgaon),Chathamkulam Foundation Charitable Trust- Chathamkulam Inst of Research & Advanced Studies, T. M. Bhagalpur University, Mar Athanasios College for Advanced Studies (MACFAST) , International School ofManagement(ISM Patna), Netaji Subhas Institute of Business Management, Christ Institute of Management (CIM), KV Charitable Trust  (KVIM Business School), Harlal Institute of Management &Technology, M.O.P. Vaishnav College for Women (Autonomous) and Bhanwar Rathore Design studio. 

Personal Care: 

The CCC found claims of 13 advertisements in personal care products or services to be either misleading or not adequately / scientifically substantiated; hence in violation of the ASCI Code. In several cases it was observed that the advertisements are misleading by implication and exaggeration and are likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. Complaints against the following advertisements were upheld:

Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (Lever Ayush Antimarks Turmeric Facecream), Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (Lever Ayush Natural Fairness Saffron Face cream), Hindustan Unilever Ltd. – Pure Derm Shampoo, Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (Lever Ayush Whitening Toothpaste with rock salt), Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (Indulekha Bringha Oil), Colgate-Palmolive (India) Ltd ( (Colgate Swarna VedShakthi Toothpaste), Wipro Enterprises P. Ltd (Chandrika Hair Oil), Dabur India Ltd. (Dabur Lal Tail), OJB Herbals Pvt. Ltd. (Oshea Herbals UV Shield Sunscreen Gel), Apcos Naturals (Just Herbs), Vaadi Herbals Pvt Ltd (Vaadi 24 Carat Gold Face pack), Jyothy Laboratories Ltd. (Margo Neem Soap), Karnataka Soaps & Detergents Ltd (Mysore Sandal soap).

Healthcare: 

The CCC found claims of 15 advertisements in healthcare products or services to be either misleading or not adequately / scientifically substantiated; hence in violation of the ASCI Code. In several cases it was observed that the advertisements are misleading by exaggeration, exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge and are likely to lead to grave disappointment in the minds of consumers. CCC also came across advertisements that were in violation of the Drugs & Magic Remedies (DMR) Act.Complaints against the following advertisements were upheld. 

Food & Beverages: 

  1. Hindustan Unilever Natural Ltd. (Red Label Care): The advertisement’s claim, “De aam viral infection se zyaada suraksha” was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity and implication. In addition, the disclaimers in the advertisement are in contravention of the ASCI Guidelines on Disclaimers for hold duration and legibility. 
  1. Marico Ltd. (Saffola Active): The product description on amazon website claiming, “Saffola active absorbs 28% lesser fat as compared to other oils”, YouTube advertisement claim, “Upto 28% less fat absorption” (Original Hindi claim, “iska low abosorb khane me tel ka absorption kare 28% tak kam”), and advertiser’s website claim, “Saffola Active - Absorbs upto 28% lesser fat as compared to other single seed oils”, was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by omission. The advertiser is making specific quantitative claim for test done only on one food item, and not for variety of fried foods that are commonly cooked at home,. 
  1. Marico Ltd. (Saffola Gold): The advertisement’s claim, “Saffola Gold has Losorb Technology which ensures upto 20% less oil absorption in food, as compared to other leading cooking oils” was inadequately substantiated as the advertiser is making a specific quantitative claim for test done only on one food item, and not for variety of fried foods that are commonly cooked at home. The claim is misleading by omission. 
  1. Nestle India Ltd (Nestle Ceregrow): The advertisement’s claims, “Pet bharke to khila diya, par muscle bharke nahi khilaya”, “Pet bharke toh khilati hogi par immunity bharke nahi” and “Jiska har bowl hai bhara iron aur ghane poshan se” were inadequately substantiated. The CCC observed that the explanation for the claim of “Poora Poshan” given by the Advertiser is contradictory.  On one side they claim that Proteins are 38% and Vitamins and Minerals are 15% of RDA for the age for which the product is made and not 100% RDA to justify the claim “Poora Poshan”. This is misleading because Consumer mothers may think that one bowl is enough of daily nutrition of their child between 2 to 5 years.The claims are misleading by ambiguity and implication and are likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. Additionally, the disclaimers in the TVC were not in the same language as the audio of the TVC (Hindi). 
  1. Zydus Limited Wellness (Nutralite):The advertisement’s claim,“Nutralite is a Healthy Alternative to Butter”, implying the advertised product to be a better substitute for butter was inadequately substantiated with comparative technical data regarding the overall nutritional profile of the two compared products such as saturated fats, transfats, total fats, calories etc. The claim is misleading by ambiguity, exaggeration,and omission likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
  1. Kraft Heinz India Pvt Ltd (Complan): The advertiser indicates that their product has 1st class protein. But the depiction in the print advertisement of placement of the text below yellow cup only creates an impression that the other product being compared against do not have any 1st class protein. This aspect (absence of 1st class protein in other products) was substantiated whereas the complainant submitted data showing presence of all essential amino acids in Horlicks. This was considered to be misleading by omission and implication. The advertisement unfairly denigrates other health drinks. 
  1. Pernod Ricard India (Royal Stag CD): The advertisement depicting the Royal Stag brand name is a surrogate advertisement for promotion of a liquor product – Seagram’s Royal Stag. The YouTube advertisement is misleading by implication, and has reference to the words “It’s your life. Make it Large” and contravened Chapters I.4 and III.6 (b) of the ASCI Code. Furthermore, the advertisement did not meet the requirements as per ASCI's Guidelines for Qualification of Brand Extension Product or Service and thereby contravened Chapter III.6 (a) of the ASCI Code. 
  1. Oziva- Nutritional Meal Replacement Shake for women: The advertisement’s claims, “Meal Replacement Shake”, “Enriched with Ayurvedic Herbs and added Vitamins & Minerals for Weight Loss & Improved Metabolism” , “Delicious Shake that saves 500-700 calories vs. a Regular Meal” were not adequately substantiated. The claims are misleading by ambiguity. 
  1. Kamla Kant & Company LLP (Rajshree Pan Masala): The hold duration of the disclaimer on the screen was not more than 4 seconds and hence it contravened Clause 4 (X) of ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers. 
  1. Ashok & Co. – Pan Bahar Ltd. (Bahar Select Pan Masala): The advertisement’s disclaimer, “Paan masala chabana haanikarak hai” and the volume of the audio contravened Clause XI of ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers (the speed of spoken disclaimers should not exceed 6 syllables per second and its volume should be the same level as the rest of the audio in the TVC. 

Leadership claims by channels / Violation of BARC Guidelines: 

  1. ARG Outlier Media (Republic TV): In the advertisement, Republic TV has used only two hours of BARC data to stake No.1 position, which is impermissible and in violation of BARC regulations. 
  1. ARG Outlier Media – (Republic TV): In the advertisement, Republic TV has made leadership claim under Single Event Reporting. As per BARC Guidelines, an event that happens five times a week for 60 weeks at a trot is distinctly not a single event. In the context of impermissible use of BARC data, the Ad – mailer contravened Chapter I.3 of the ASCI Code. 
  1. ARG Outlier Media (Republic TV): In the advertisement, “Republic TV has made leadership claim under Single Event Reporting. As per BARC Guidelines, an event that happens five times a week for 65 weeks at a trot is distinctly not a single event.. In the context of impermissible use of BARC data, the Ad – mailer contravened Chapter I.3 of the ASCI Code. 
  1. Times Network Ltd (Times Now): In the advertisement, publishing of relative shares was not permitted under BARC Usage Guidelines. The Advertisement – Television promo contravened Chapter I.3 of the ASCI Code. 
  1. Times Network Ltd (Times Now): The advertisement emailer was misleading by omission to mention that their channel is No.1 in English News genre. Also, the word “Always” in the claim implies that their leadership position (No.1) is consistent, which is misleading by implication and exaggeration. The claim is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. Also the position of the disclaimer was not correctly placed in the advertisement which contravened ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers 
  1. Times Network Ltd (Times Now): The television advertisement was misleading by omission to mention that their channel is No.1 in English News genre. 
  1. TV9 (TV9 Gujarati): The advertisement’s claim, “TV9 Gujarati No. 1”, was not substantiated with viewership data of the advertiser’s channel against all other competitive channels, to prove its leadership position (No.1), and is misleading by exaggeration and implication. 

OTHERS: 

  1. LG Electronics India Pvt Ltd (LG Refrigerator): The advertisement’s claim, “Linear Cooling” was not substantiated with technical data for product feature claiming to offer cooling all across the refrigerator. The claim, “Keeps food fresh up to 14 days”, was not substantiated with comparative data or with technical test reports of the product.  The claims are misleading by exaggeration. 
  1. Shopkio: The website advertisement offer of “Attractive Blue Colored Printed Khadi Silk Saree Online”, with the visual of the model shown with the same colour saree, misleading by distortion, and misrepresented facts. The advertisement is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
  1. Franke Faber India Ltd. (Faber 3D Hood Chimney): The advertisement’s claim, “Makes your kitchen completely smoke-free” was not substantiated and is misleading by exaggeration. 
  1. Blue Star Limited (Blue Star Water Purifier): The advertisement’s claim, “Immuno Boost Technology” was inadequately substantiated. The claim is misleading by exaggeration, exploits consumers’ lack of knowledge and is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
  1. Lenskart.com: The advertisement’s claim, “Two Pairs for Rs 999 for Gold members” was misleading by omission; the offer is available only on purchase of 2 pairs of spectacle frames with lenses, and subject to Terms and Conditions. The claim offer is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
  1. Future Retail Limited (Big Bazaar): The advertisement displaying - Phool Gobhi, Cabbage, Bhindi, Coconut, Beans, Carrot, Lemon, Cucumber, Spinach and few others under the discount offer of “Rs.6 per 250 g”, misrepresented the facts. The visual is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
  1. Paytm E-Commerce Pvt Ltd (Paytm): The advertisement’s claim related to the price of the product (Suzuki Access 125 SE CBS - Disc) quoted as Rs.20,000/- was misleading by ambiguity and omission to mention that it is only a booking amount with an additional convenience fees applicable.  The visual is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
  1. Godrej Consumer Products Ltd: The advertisement’s claim, “Kapde pe ek do teen char no machhar biting ghar ke bahar” was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by exaggeration and omission. For the claim, “100% natural” it was observed that the two active oils constituted 50% of the product whereas no details regarding the “Natural” status of the remaining 50% (excipients) was provided. In view of this observation, the visual in the advertisement of front of pack declaration of “100% Natural” is misleading by ambiguity, implication and omission of mention that this claim is limited to only the active ingredients. 
  1. Infibeam Avenues Ltd (Infibeam.com): The advertisement’s claim, “We are giving free domain names with Daily Earnings”, is misleading by omission to mention that the earnings start only when an advertiser registers on the domain and post advertisements are served on the page. Furthermore, the position of the disclaimer was not correctly placed in the advertisement, and contravened the ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers. 
  1. Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd (Reliance Digital TV): The advertisement’s claim, “Maximum time duration from booking to installation will be 30 to 45 days”, was not substantiated and is misleading by exaggeration. The claim is likely to cause grave and widespread disappointment in the minds of the consumers. 
  1. Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. (Reliance Jio): The advertisement’s claim, “With 4G speed, enjoy the fastest speed anywhere in the country”, was not substantiated and is misleading by exaggeration. The claim is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
  1. Life Fitness Gym: The advertisement’s claim, “India’s biggest ever Gym opens at Shahibaug”, was not substantiated with any verifiable comparative data of the advertiser’s Gym and other fitness Gyms in India, to prove that it is bigger than the rest, or through third party validation. The source for the claim was not indicated in the advertisement. The claim is misleading by exaggeration and is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
  1. Tanisha Systems (Lovevivah): The advertisement’s claims, “India’s Top Matrimony Site”, and “We offer the most trusted & authentic matrimonial profiles for those who are looking for Indian brides and grooms for marriage” were not substantiated with any consumer survey data, or any verifiable comparative data of the advertiser’s site and other matrimonial sites in India, to prove that they are amongst the top and the most trusted matrimonial matchmaking service providers, or through third party validation. The claims are misleading by exaggeration and are likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
  1. Manhattan Sofa Makers: The advertisement’s claims, “Buy nine Seater Sofa & get items worth Rs 25,000 free**” and “India’s largest Sofa manufacturers”, were not substantiated with third party validation or any verifiable or comparative data, to prove that they are largest. The claim is misleading by exaggeration and is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
  2. Resinova Chemie Ltd (ResiQuick): The advertisement’s claim, “India’s most innovative instant adhesive”, was not substantiated with any technical rationale or comparative data to prove that their product is the most advanced. The claim is misleading by exaggeration and is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 
  3. Resinova Chemie Ltd (ResiQuick): The advertisement’s tagline, “aam chipkanewale chipka jaate hain” was with reference to other ordinary adhesive products being messy during use was not substantiated. This reference made is misleading by ambiguity and implication
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