Reliance Jio, Amazon, Airtel ads under ASCI scanner
In May 2017, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 117 out of 154 advertisements. Out of 117 advertisements against which complaints were upheld, 39 belonged to the Healthcare category, 33 to the Education category, followed by 8 in the Personal Care category, 8 in Telecommunication sector, 6 in the Food & Beverages category, 5 in E-commerce category and 18 advertisements from other categories.
The CCC found the following claims of 39 advertisements in health care products or services to be either misleading or false or not adequately / scientifically substantiated and hence violating ASCI’s Code. Some of the health care products or services advertisements also contravened provisions of the Drugs & Magic Remedies Act (DMR Act), Drugs and Cosmetics Rules (D&C Rules) and Chapter 1.1 and III.4 of the ASCI Code. Complaints against the following advertisements were UPHELD.
- Fit N Slim Fitness Centre: The advertisement’s claims, “Instant Result (100% Result)”, “Reduce two to three inches in one sitting”, and “Five to seven kilograms in a month”, were not substantiated and were hence misleading by exaggeration.
- Fit N Fine Body Care Services Pvt. Ltd. (Fit N Fine): The advertisement’s claims, “Instant inch loss through non‐surgical liposuction”, “Guaranteed five kilograms weight loss”, and “Immediate visible results ‐ Lose six to eight centimetres* Results within 60 minutes”, were not substantiated and are hence misleading by exaggeration. It was further opined that the efficacy sought to be depicted through an image purporting to be that of “after the treatment” was misleading by gross exaggeration.
- The Medinova Retreat (MediSpa): The advertisement’s claims, “Now reducing weight is very easy” and “Reduce three inches from tummy within ten hours only*”, were not substantiated and were misleading by gross exaggeration. Also it was concluded that the claims and efficacy being depicted in the image of “after the treatment” was misleading by gross exaggeration.
- VSS Health and Wellness Center: The advertisement’s claims, “100% Guarantee of weight loss or money back”, “Reduce upto five kilograms weight and get more upto five kilogram free”, and “Reduce upto ten kilograms weight and get more upto ten kilogram free”, were not substantiated with supporting clinical evidence, and with treatment efficacy data among patients, and they were misleading by exaggeration. It was further noted that, the advertiser had not provided any supporting evidence of customers to whom the money was refunded.
The CCC found following claims in the advertisements by 33 different advertisers were not substantiated and, thus, violated ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions. Hence complaints against these advertisements were UPHELD.
- Lovely Professional University: The advertisement’s claim, “packages in excess of Rs. One Crore are the norm" clearly conveyed the idea that an overwhelming majority of the students of the advertiser’s University are able to obtain placements with Rs. One crore per annum remuneration, immediately after passing out of the University. It was however seen that the advertiser could not provide any evidence or proof for the claim. It was opined that the advertiser’s further statement in justification, that the above advertisement “was only information”, could also not be accepted. In view of the above, it was concluded that the advertisement was misleading by ambiguity and implication.
- Indeed.com: The advertisement’s claim, “The World’s #1 job site”, was inadequately substantiated, and is misleading by ambiguity and omission.
- ALS Satellite Education Private Limited - ALS Satellite Education: The advertisement’s claims, “India's Largest IAS Coaching Institution” and “All India 1st Rank for 3 times”, were not substantiated were not substantiated with any verifiable, authentic, and comparative data vis-a-vis other similar institutes in the same category, or, reports of any third party validation or research to prove these claims. Also the claims, “2208+ Selections in last 15 years” and “180+ Selections in 2016 Exam”, were not substantiated with verifiable claim support data, and are misleading by exaggeration and implication.
- IT Champs Software Pvt. Ltd.: The advertisement’s claims, “Free Internships provided with Assured Placements” and “Assured Placements for Candidates enrolling in SAP S4 HANA Certification”, were not substantiated with verifiable claim support data and were therefore misleading by exaggeration.
FOOD & BEVERAGES
- Aqua Pure Life water purifiers: The advertisement’s claim, ““Sabse Shudh Pani” was considered as entirely unsubstantiated and misleading by exaggeration.
- Organic India Private Limited (Tulsi Green Tea): The advertisement’s claim, “100% Certified Organic”, was not substantiated and is misleading.
- Narang Group (Ocean Fruit Wave): The advertisement’s claim, “You can squeeze those bottles instead of me”, suggested that the consumer should have this drink instead of having fresh fruit. This aspect, in the context of the advertisement recommending what a child should drink, it was opined, that the advertisement was in violation of the ASCI Guidelines on Advertising of Food and Beverages Clause 5 (“mislead as to the nutritive value of the beverage”). Further, the claim that contained illustration of a fruit, saying “It’s all me”, was considered misleading by implication.
- Modi Naturals Ltd. (Oleev Active): The advertisement’s claim was that the product “helps in reducing serum cholesterol, preventing lifestyle diseases, and has anti-ageing properties etc.” The advertiser stated that nowhere on the packaging was it claimed that ‘Oleev Active’ helps in reducing serum cholesterol, preventing lifestyle diseases, etc. The advertiser positions these benefits as Oryzanol properties, the claim was not substantiated for the Oryzanol content in the product or the specific oil blend and was misleading by ambiguity and implication. Further for the claim, “Stable while frying”, the advertiser submitted report to support claim. However, there was no mention of the advertised product in the report and a comparison was done with Saffola Gold. In absence of a detailed study under different frying tests for the specific product, this claim was considered to be inadequately substantiated. Also, for the claim “a light oil that gets absorbed upto 20% less”, the report did not cover frying results for different foods. Therefore, the data was considered to be inadequate and the claim was misleading by ambiguity and omission. Furthermore, while the advertisement is in Hindi, the disclaimers in the advertisement are in English which violates ASCI’s Guidelines for Disclaimers.
- OJB Herbals Pvt. Ltd. (Oshea Sun Block SPF 40): The advertisement’s claims, “Five in One Solution SPF 40”, “Skin lightening”, “Prevents tanning & ageing” and SPF values for their product range stating - Other SPF Range:‐ “UVSHIELD SPF‐ 50 ‐ SUN BLOCK FORMULA ‐ Broad Spectrum Protection (HEVL) All skin type”, “UVSHIELD SPF‐30 ‐SUN BLOCK CREAM ‐ Enriched with Almond All skin type”, “UVSHIELD SPF‐25 ‐ SUNSCREEN ‐ Fairness Lotion ‐ All skin type” and “UVSHIELD SPF‐20 ‐ SUNBLOCK GEL ‐ Enriched with Alovera Normal to Oily skin”, were not substantiated with evidence of technical evaluation for measurement of SPF factor in each product and proof of product efficacy, and were therefore misleading.
- SBS Biotech Ayurvedic Division (Roop Mantra Skin Care Products): The advertisement showcases celebrity, Preity Zinta, who states, "I'm very happy to be associated with Roop Mantra why because manthra is a best ayurvedic product. It got many national and international awards also”, and further that Preity Zinta had said before endorsing roop manthra she studied and tried roop manthra to herself and said that you also try it, then you will understand yourself that why I have done this endorsement. It was opined that in accordance with the celebrity guidelines of ASCI, the advertiser was required to show that the celebrity was adequately informed about the product, or had personal experience with the product, which they had not conclusively established. In view of the above, it was concluded that the said claim has not been adequately substantiated and is misleading by implication. The advertisement also claims that it was “helpful in protecting from dark complexion, scars, wrinkles, pimples and dull skin” which was not substantiated with relevant and authentic scientific evidence or independent studies conducted on the efficacy of the product. Therefore it was concluded that this part of the advertisement was misleading.
- Win – Medicare Pvt. Ltd. (Mederma Intense Gel): The advertisement’s claim, “Flawless” in the statement “Now get the flawless skin in just 8 weeks from Acne Scars”, was inadequately substantiated and was misleading by exaggeration.
- Lotus Herbals Limited (Lotus Whiteglow Range of Products): The advertisement’s claims, “LOTUS WHITEGLOW ‐ it comes enriched with saxifrage extracts and milk enzymes that help Lighten, Whiten your skin in 7 days”, “Visible results in 7 days ‐ WHITEGLOW is the only natural fairness range that can deliver visible results in 7 days of regular use”, “Clinical Trials show that the following ingredients lighten, whiten & brighten the skin in 7 days* of regular use: SAXIFRAGA EXTRACTS ‐ Act as antioxidants & prevent damage from UV radiation, claim of SPF value of WHITEGLOW HAND & BODY LOTION i.e. SPF 25 ‐ PA+++, whitening claim for WHITEGLOW FACIAL FOAM ‐ 3 in 1 DEEP CLEANSING i.e. Whitens ‐ Blocks Melanin Production, WHITEGLOW SERUM + MOISTURISER ‐ UPTO 2X SKIN WHITENING & BRIGHTENING POWER”, claim of SPF value of “WHITEGLOW Skin Whitening and Brightening Gel crème ‐ i.e. SPF 25 ‐ PA+++”, were not substantiated with evidence of product efficacy, and are misleading by exaggeration.
- Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. (3 months unlimited at Rs.309/-): The advertisement’s claim, “3 months unlimited at Rs.309”, is misleading by ambiguity and omission of a disclaimer qualifying the offer that it is subject to terms and conditions. Further for the claim, ”Unlimited” contravened Chapter I.4 of the ASCI Code as well as Clauses 1 and 2 of ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers. (“A disclaimer can expand or clarify a claim, make qualifications, or resolve ambiguities, to explain the claim in further details, but should not contradict the material claim made or contradict the main message conveyed by the advertiser or change the dictionary meaning of the words used in the claim as received or perceived by a consumer” and “Disclaimer such as `T&C apply’ should indicate where this information is available to consumer for further reference.”).
- Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. (Reliance Jio): For the advertisement’s claim, “All unlimited three months at Rs.309”, the complaint made was that the offer is valid for only 84 days which is not completely three months. It was concluded that the advertiser’s explanation in respect to this complaint, that “it was a standard industry practice to consider one month as 28 days to bring about consistency in the billing cycle” was not considered acceptable, given the fact that in common parlance, a month was always understood as a calendar month. Further, in respect of the claim, “Unlimited maza continue hoyega” that was made in the advertisement ought to have carried a mention that such claim was subject to certain terms and conditions. The advertisement did not have any mention of the speed throttling after 1 GB. In the absence of such mention of terms and conditions, it was opined that the claim was vague and misleading by omission and ambiguity.
- Reliance Communications Ltd.: The advertisement’s claims, “unlimited local STD call for 28 days at Rs 199” and “unlimited local STD call for all networks”, were without any substantiation and the claim stating “unlimited” is misleading in view of the capping.
- Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Airtel 29 INR for 1 month): The advertisement’s claim, “Enjoy internet for the full month at just Rs.29”, is misleading by ambiguity and omission as 75 MB being given at that cost may not last for a month.
- BusinessEx.com: The advertisement’s claim, “India's # 1 Business Broking Company”, was not substantiated with any verifiable, authentic comparative data with other similar companies; or any third party validation or research to prove this claim, and was misleading by exaggeration.
- Amazon Seller Services Pvt. Ltd. (Amazon.com, Inc.): The visual of “a man and a woman riding two wheeler without a helmet” as depicted in the advertisement shows a violation of traffic rules, as well as an unsafe practice.
- Amazon.com, Inc. (American style cream and onion flavor – party pack): The advertisement’s claim, “The price offer “MRP 230 Price 63.00 Save 167.00 (73% off)” of “American style cream and onion flavor – party pack”, was false and misleading as the actual MRP of the product is Rs. 65.
- Amazon.com, Inc. (Redmi 3S/ 3S Prime): An advertisement regarding a flash sale for Redmi 3S / 3S Prime on Amazon states the sale will be at 12pm every Friday. In spite of all their assertions, the advertiser had not provided any evidence of successful sale of the advertised product through flash sale, in the period mentioned in the advertisement. Hence it was considered that the advertisement had violated the ASCI Code, in so much as the claims therein have not been objectively substantiated and the offer was misleading.
- Aerobok Shoes Pvt. Ltd. (Aqualite): The advertisement’s claims, “India’s Most Trusted Brand - Consumer Validated 2016”, “Asia's Most Promising Brand”, “World's Greatest Brand Asia & Gcc”, and “India's Selected No.1 Brand - India 2016”, were inadequately substantiated and are misleading.
- Asian Paints Ltd. (Asian Paints Royale Atmos): The advertisement’s claims, “Air purifying paint” and “It destroys harmful pollutants, making the air inside your home purer than ever before”, were inadequately substantiated and are misleading by exaggeration.
- HDFC Standard Life Insurance Company Ltd (HDFC life Cancer care): The advertisement’s claim, “One in eight Indian men are likely to contract cancer at some point in their life”, was not substantiated with authentic supporting evidence, and is misleading by exaggeration exploiting consumers’ lack of knowledge.
- LG Electronics India Pvt. Ltd. (LG Dual Cool Air Conditioners): The visual in an advertisement showing a minor on multiple occasions leaving her home, crossing the road and entering a Mall without the consent of her parents, depicts a dangerous act which is likely to encourage minors to emulate such acts in a manner which could cause harm or injury to such minors.