Mumbai: In July 2018, ASCI investigated complaints against 295 advertisements. For 79 advertisements, the advertisers promptly ensured corrective action as soon as the complaints were received. ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 176 advertisements forma total of 216 advertisements evaluated by them.
Of the 176 advertisements wherein the complaints were upheld, 111 belonged to the education sector, 25 to the food & beverages category, 21 to the healthcare sector, four to personal care and 15 were from the ‘others’ category.
The most common reason for upholding complaints was superlative claims by advertisers especially for education sector advertisements. The claims were unsubstantiated and misleading that they provide 100% placement or they are No. 1. The other reasons comprised making claims which were misleading by ambiguity or by implication, exploiting consumers’ lack of knowledge and likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 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.
Amongst various advertisements that were examined, the CCC observed some advertisements that were in violation of ASCI Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising. An eminent sports celebrity was found to endorse an artificial sweetener that claimed to control blood sugar. Another celebrity was found to endorse a shampoo brand promising to make your hair problem free. Furthermore, a renowned celebrity was found to endorse a water purifier wherein the claims made in the advertisement were not substantiated.
“ASCI’s Suo Moto surveillance of print and TV advertisements picks a large number of potentially misleading advertisements. The Consumer Complaints Council finds that a major proportion of these advertisements belong to the Education Sector. Educational Institutions which offer programs of education and training play a vital role in building educational capital in India. Parents, too, make great sacrifices to enable their children to get the right education. Therefore, high incidence of misleading advertisements in this sector is worrisome and requires urgent attention from the Ministry of HRD.” said Ms Shweta Purandare, Secretary General ASCI.
Complaints against advertisements in violation of ASCI’s Guide lines that were upheld includes prominent brands like Dabur Vatika Shampoo, Saregama Carvaan, Danone India, Dove Go Body Lotion, Hyundai Creta, Oral- B Toothbrush, Kalyan Group, Good Knight Power Active+, Good Knight Powerchip and Dettol Cool.
The advertisements also picked through ASCI’s SuoMoto surveillance of Print and TV media via the National Advertisement Monitoring Services (NAMS) project. Out of total 192 advertisements, for 55 cases the advertisers withdrew the advertisements as soon as they received communication from ASCI and the rest 137 advertisements were considered to be misleading. Of the total of 137 advertisements, 101 belonged to the Education category, 18 advertisements belonged to the Healthcare category, 11 belonged to the Food & Beverages category, two to Personal care category, and five belonged to the ‘Others’ category.
The CCC found claims in the advertisements by 36 advertisers that were not substantiated and thus, in violation of ASCI Guidelines for Advertising for Educational Institutions. Several claims were misleading by exaggeration. In addition to that, Complaints against advertisements of 65 educational institutes were also 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.