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Quaker Oats, SpiceJet, Malayala Manorama, Myntra, Lifebuoy ads under ASCI scanner

In June2018, ASCI investigated complaints against 208 advertisements. For 63 advertisements, the advertisers promptly ensured corrective action as soon as the complaints were received. ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 89 advertisements from a total of 145 advertisements evaluated by them. 

Of the 89 advertisements wherein the complaints were upheld, 27 belonged to the education sector, 25 to the healthcare sector, 15 to the food & beverages category, five to personal care and 17 were from the ‘others’ category. 

The most common reason for upholding complaints was exaggeration of product efficacy and exploiting consumers’ lack of knowledge. This was followed by violations of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act (DMR Act) and the Drugs and Cosmetics (D&C) Rules and advertisements which contravened various ASCI guidelines. The other reasons comprised of providing facts which led to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers, claims that were not substantiated with any verifiable comparative data, and claims which were misleading by ambiguity or by implication. 

Amongst various advertisements that were examined, the CCC observed that, a popular chef was found endorsing an oats product from a popular foods & beverage company, stating it to have twice as much protein and fibre whereas this comparison was not versus other oats but was versus cornflakes as per disclaimers. The disclaimer in the advertisement was illegible and not as per the ASCI Guidelines on Disclaimers.  Furthermore, a famous celebrity was seen endorsing a juice powder brand, claiming it to have natural fruit energy which was not substantiated and was misleading by ambiguity and implication about the fruit content in the product. In another advertisement, a popular celebrity was shown driving a car without seat belt, showing an unsafe practice. These advertisements violated ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising. 

Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) has engaged with ASCI to process complaints against misleading advertisements. All complaints pertaining to misleading advertisements are reflected on DoCA’s portal GAMA (gama.gov.in). DoCA’s co-regulation model with ASCI is running its fourth consecutive year and has been successful to ensure a high compliance rate close to 90 per cent. Non-compliances are escalated to the Sector Regulator for necessary action. 

“ASCI’s evolving self-regulatory framework continues to be responsible and responsive to the needs of the consumers, the advertising industry and the regulators. Our focussed efforts towards building awareness and establishing better compliance in the industry will continue to make a positive contribution to the advertising ecosystem,” said Shivakumar, Chairman, ASCI. 

Healthcare: Total of 25 advertisements complained against 

  • Direct Complaints (9 advertisements)
  • Suo Moto Surveillance by ASCI (16 advertisements)

Personal Care: Total of 5 advertisements complained against

  • Direct Complaints (4 advertisements)
  • Suo Moto Surveillance by ASCI (1 advertisement)

Food & Beverages: Total of 15 advertisements complained against

  • Direct Complaints (9 advertisements)
  • Suo Moto Surveillance by ASCI (6 advertisements)

Education: Total of 27 advertisements complained against

  • Direct Complaints (11 advertisements)
  • Suo Moto Surveillance by ASCI (16 advertisements)

Others: Total of 17 advertisements complained against

  • Direct Complaints (7 advertisements)
  • Suo Moto Surveillance by ASCI (10 advertisements)

Direct complaints 

The advertisements given below were complained against by the general public or by industry members. Of the 106 advertisements complained against by the general public or by industry members, 11 cases were informally resolved, wherein the advertisements were voluntarily withdrawn and complaints against 40 advertisements were upheld by the CCC. Of the total of 40 advertisements, nine advertisements belonged to Healthcare sector, four to Personal care sector, 11 belonged to the Education category, nine from the Food & Beverages category and seven belonged to the ‘Others’ category.

Complaints against the following advertisements were upheld as the advertisements were in violation of ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising:

PepsiCo India Holding P. Ltd (Quaker Oats): The advertisement’s claim “Two times more protein” was misleading by ambiguity and implication and the commercial under reference contravened ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising. 

PepsiCo India Holdings P. Ltd (Quaker Oats): In the advertisement, a doctor is seen operating a small kid at odd hours. Celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna then says that “Dr. Varun works a 24 hours shift. Dr Varun Nair is truly an ambassador of full fitness and is assisted by Quaker Oats”. Claim “Quaker Oats me hai 2x More Protein and Fibre*” was qualified with a disclaimer “*Per serve comparison with cornflakes. Reference: Atlas of Indian Foods”, which was not legible and not as per ASCI Guidelines on Disclaimers (font size, contrast, hold duration).  The commercial was considered to be misleading by ambiguity and omission of the direct reference of such comparison in the Voice Over itself.  The advertisement’s claim “Two times more protein” was misleading by ambiguity and implication and the commercial under reference contravened ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising.  

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

SpiceJet Ltd (SpiceJet): The visual of “a man inserting loose wires into a power socket and getting an electric shock, and also shown repeating this act again”, shows an unsafe and a dangerous practice, which manifests a disregard for safety and encourages negligence. It was also observed that dangerous act such as this is likely to encourage minors to emulate it in a manner which could cause harm or injury, and lead to them suffering shocks. 

Malayala Manorama: In the advertisement, actor Dulquer Salman is playing the main lead of the driver who provides lift to different people without wearing a seat belt. It was concluded that the scene in the commercial of “a model in a car not wearing a seat belt while driving”, shows an unsafe practice. The commercial is likely to mislead consumers by implying that seat belt is not compulsory while driving. 

Education 

Complaints were upheld against:

Koneru Lakshmaiah Charities (KL University), Sreedhar's CCE, Narayana Group of Educational Institutions, National Institute of Event Management, Sharda University, Think & Learn Pvt Ltd- (Byju’s learning App), The Smart Test Prep, Harshad Shah Chemistry Coaching, Alpine Convent School, Applect Learning Systems Pvt Ltd, Gurukul Management College. 

Healthcare 

The CCC found claims of nine advertisements in healthcare products or services to be either misleading or false or not adequately/ scientifically substantiated; hence, in violation of the ASCI Code. In several cases it was observed that the advertisements exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge and are likely to lead to grave disappointment in the minds of consumers. Complaints against the following advertisements were upheld. 

RJR Herbal Hospital, Rathna Siddha Hospital and Herbal Research and Development Centre, Astha Clinic, Medi Life Ayurveda Hospital (Dr. Sharda), Lord Dhanwantari Ayurvedic Hospital, Zydus Hospital, RMR Herb's. 

Personal care 

Complaints were upheld against:

Hindustan Unilever Ltd (Lifebuoy Soap), RSPL Limited (Venus Crème Bar), IncNut Digital Pvt Ltd. (Royal Indulgence Keshvi Intensive Ayurvedic Hair Oil), Prince Pharma (2 Much Herbal Capsule). 

Food & Beverage 

Complaints were upheld against:

Kraft Heinz India Private Ltd - Complan, PepsiCo India Holding P. Ltd (New Tropicana Essentials-Fruits and Veggies), Belteck Canadian Water Ltd (Wild Vitamin Water), Faasos Food Services Pvt Ltd (Faasos App), Bhaskar Venkatesh Products Pvt Ltd (Bhaskar Salt), Britannia Industries Ltd (Britannia Whole Wheat Bread), Frimline Pvt. Ltd (Palmiges). 

Others 

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, Myntra.com, Yatra Online Private Limited (Yatra.com), Borosil Limited Glass Works (Borosil), Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd. (Suzuki Access 125). 

Suo Moto Surveillance by ASCI 

The advertisements given below were picked up through ASCI’s Suo Moto surveillance of Print and TV media via the National Advertisement Monitoring Services (NAMS) project. Out of 102 advertisements that were picked up, 49 advertisements were considered to be misleading. Of the total of 49advertisements, 16 advertisements belonged to the Healthcare category, 16 belonged to the Education category, six belonged to the Food & Beverages category, one to Personal care category, and 10 belonged to the ‘Others’ category

The below advertisement violated ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising: 

Rasna Private Limited (Rasna): The advertisements claim, “Natural Fruit Energy”, was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity and implication about the fruit content in the product.  The visual of celebrity Kareena Kapoor when seen in conjunction with the claim is likely to mislead consumers regarding the nature of product benefit and contravened the Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising. 

Healthcare 

Fortis Healthcare Ltd, VLCC Healthcare Pvt Ltd (VLCC Sun Care Range), VLCC Health Care Pvt Ltd (VLCC Fitness), Samson Slim Care, Cancer Healer Centre, ABP Corp Ltd (Cleo County), Dr. A’s Clinic, Lokmanya Medical Foundation (Lokmanya Hospital), Shape in Slimming Centre, Slim In Style, Apple Hospital & Test Tube Baby Centre, Perfect Point, OPTM HealthCare Private Limited, Rajnish Hot Deals Pvt. Ltd (Play-Win Capsule and Spray). 

Education 

The CCC found claims in the advertisements by 16 advertisers that were not substantiated and thus, in violation of ASCI Guidelines for Advertising for Educational Institutions. 

The Evolving Minds – The Evolving Minds Preschool, Rect Polytechnic College, Lovely Professional University, Shemrock Group of Schools – Shemrock Moms Touch, NeoStencil India Private Limited, Pallavi Model School, Vidyamandir Classes, New Gurukul Science Coaching. 

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

Koneru Lakshmaiah Education Foundation, Samrat College, Sojatia Classes, Shree Dev Bhoomi Institute of Education  Science & Technology, The Vision Education Group – Vision PU College, ITM Group of Institutions- ITM Institute of Hotel Management, Little Wonders International, Haryana College of Fire & Safety Management. 

Food & Beverage 

Organic India Pvt Ltd (Organic Honey and Organic Ghee), Jhandewalas Food Limited (Polki Refined Groundnut Oil), Aishwarya Tea Industries  – (Aishwarya Tea Range), Premium Foods India (Premium Foods Range), MBS Beverage Pvt Ltd  (MBS Cola). 

Personal care 

Lotus Herbals Pvt. Ltd (Lotus Professional PhytoRx Sun Protection Range): The advertisement’s claim, “Nature's most effective shield against the sun”, was a superlative claim which not substantiated with evidence of product efficacy and with technical tests/trial reports and is misleading by gross exaggeration. 

Others 

For six different advertisements of the following Jewellery brands, the claim, “India's Most Preferred Jeweller”, was not substantiated with verifiable comparative data /market survey data of the advertiser’s product and other competitor diamond jewellers or through a third party validation. The source and date of the claim was not mentioned and the claim is misleading by ambiguity and omission. 

Nirvana Diamond Jewellery, Asmi Diamond Jewellery, Nakshatra Diamonds, Gitanjali Jewels, Gili, and Sangini Diamond Jewellers. 

ARG Outlier Media Asianet News P. Ltd (Republic TV): In the advertisement’s claim, the disclaimer put by the advertiser for the claim "India's No. 1 Channel" is based on one day data (Period: Week 21 - 2018) and not four consecutive weeks of data and also the data was for week days excluding weekend (Day: Week days) and not for entire week as per Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC). Therefore, it violates BARC Principles. The subject matter of comparison is chosen in such a way so as to confer an artificial advantage upon the advertiser so as to suggest that a better bargain is offered than is truly the case. Hence, the claim "India's No. 1 Channel" disclaimers in the ad were too small, which contravened ASCI’s Guidelines on disclaimers. 

Doms Industries Pvt Ltd: The advertisement’s claim, “India's No.1 Brand - 2017”, and “India's No.1 Stationery Brand”, were inadequately substantiated and are misleading by exaggeration. 

Sahara India Commercial Corporation Ltd – RML Sahara Ganj: The advertisement’s claim, “The nationally awarded mall”, was not substantiated with details of the criteria for granting the award, references of the award received such as the year, source and category. Also the claim is misleading by ambiguity and exaggeration. 

Action Footwear – (Action Plus): The advertisement’s claim, “Awarded as leading power brand of India”, was not substantiated with copy of the award certificate, details of the criteria for granting the award, references of the awards received such as the year, source and category. The claim is misleading by omission of disclaimer to qualify this claim. 

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