During the months of March and April 2020, ASCI investigated complaints against 533 advertisements, of which 115 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers on receipt of communication from ASCI. The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) evaluated the remaining 418 advertisements, of which complaints against 377 advertisements were upheld. Of these 377 advertisements, 187 belonged to the healthcare sector, 132 belonged to the education sector, 15 to the food & beverages sector, nine belonged to real estate sector,five to the personal care and the immigration sector each and 24 were from the ‘others’ category.
We have highlighted a few brands and their false claims that mislead consumers.
Tulison Pharma (KasMadhu Herbal Cough Syrup)
The television advertisement’s claim “For viral infections like cough, cold, sore throat, ayurvedic medicines are more effective than allopathic medicines”, was not substantiated with product efficacy data. The advertiser did not provide any scientific rationale or technical data indicating that their ayurvedic product is better than allopathic products. In view of the current pandemic situation of COVID-19 virus, the CCC considered the advertisement to be misleading by gross exaggeration.
Asian Paints Ltd. (Asian Paints Damp Proof)
The YouTube advertisement’s depiction of a woman protagonist slapping the male protagonist was considered as normalizing violence. The CCC did not agree with the advertiser’s contention that the situation was depicted in a humorous manner. The CCC further observed that the woman’s face in the advertisement portrays anger, grimacing and is not light-hearted as asserted by the advertiser. The wife’s action results in the baby getting scared and starts to cry as well. The CCC did not agree with advertiser’s submission that the wife’s act was meant to catch the attention of the husband. It depicted a much more serious tone that not only was demeaning but also disrespectful.
Rasna International Pvt. Ltd (Rasna Native Haat Honey)
The print advertisement’s claim “No chemical”, “No preservatives” and “No added sugar” endorsed by Saina Nehwal were not substantiated. The advertiser did not submit any product specific details such as composition / pack artwork, nor evidence of absence of any chemicals, preservatives or any added sugar or any technical test report.
Additionally, the advertiser did not provide any evidence to show that the celebrity had done due diligence prior to endorsement, to ensure that all description, claims and comparisons made in the advertisement are capable of substantiation. The advertisement contravened ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising.
Reliance Industries Ltd. (AJIO.com)
The print advertisement promoting the “No ifs & buts sale” on their online shipping website (www.ajio.com) which offers a wide range of clothes, footwear and accessories by various brands was considered misleading. The advertisement contains two text captions (“Flat 60% off**” and “On 2, 00,000+ Styles**”) that are qualified with (**) and the text “**Terms & Conditions Apply”. The print advertisement contravened Guidelines for Disclaimers in Advertising.
Career Launcher (CAT Online Classes)
The website advertisement’s claim, “1 out of every 4 enrolled students receiving an IIM call”, was not substantiated and misleading by exaggeration. The advertiser did not provide authentic supporting data such as batch size of students per year, detailed verifiable list of students who had received IIM call, evidence to support their enrolment, contact details of students for verification, nor was the claim backed by a CA certification or an independent third-party validation.
Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited (Apollo Proton Cancer Centre)
The print advertisement’s claim “Cancer is conquerable”, was misleading by omission. The CCC did not agree with the advertiser’s opinion as the word “conquer” is an affirmative sign that cancer can be overcome irrespective of the stages of cancer. The reference quoted by the advertiser itself states that “advances in technology for early diagnosis and early surgical treatment have elevated the cure rate of gastric cancers.” The early diagnosis and early treatment are the key drivers for success.
These were some of the campaigns and brands that ASCI acted upon. ASCI is definitely committed to the cause of self-regulation in advertising ensuring the protection of the interest of consumers