The Annual Complaints Report FY 21-’22, which the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) published earlier this month, provided information on the complaints examined and advertisements handled by the self-regulatory organisation.
Report shares detailed insights into complaints related to key categories such as Education, Healthcare, Personal Care, VDA, Gaming, and F&B. The significance of the digital ecosystem was reflected in the fact that 48 percent of the ads that ASCI processed were published digitally, 29% of the complaints that were filed concerned influencers, and the top six violative categories showed the emergence of sectors like gaming and cryptocurrency.
Personal Care Category
The category witnessed a 261 pc increase in the complaints compared to previous year. During 2021-22, 531 ads were looked into by ASCI, out of which 4 pc was nullified, 5 pc dismissed, 91 pc required modification. The Procedural outcomes of cases requiring modification were, 69 pc had informal resolution and 31 pc were upheld.
4 ads featuring celebrities were found to be misleading and 371 ads with influencer disclosure violations. The mediums splits were as follows, 88 pc on Digital Medium, 6pc on TV, and 4 pc on Print.
There were various claims made in the advertisements looked into under this category. Most of the violative claims were pertaining to product performance. Owing to the ongoing pandemic we saw a number of protection and prevention claims particularly claiming protection from germs like viruses and bacteria. Besides these there were comparative claims, Ingredient performance led claims, natural & organic product claims, leadership claims, consumer trust and recommendation by experts claims.
Food & Beverage category
An increase of 23 pc in complaints were registered in the Food & Beverage category during 2021-2022. Out of 1728 ads, 2 pc were nullified, 14 pc dismissed, and 84 pc required modification. In the category, 10 ads featuring celebrities were found to be misleading.
Almost every product sub-category under F&B had immunity boosting claims along with ingredient benefit and product performance claims. Comparative claims, leadership claims, health & disease risk reduction claims were also common. Like many other categories there was an increase in claims pertaining to protection from & prevention of various diseases caused by viruses & bacteria. Other claims included awards & rankings, natural source/organic foods, consumer trust and quality claims.
The mediums splits were as follows, 73 pc on Digital Medium, 16pc on Print, and 7 pc on TV.
Most of the violative claims under the Education sector were pertaining to Leadership, Awards & Rankings and Job Guarantee claims. Comparative superlative claims like highest success, lowest fees etc. and performance outcome claims like best results, success assured were also common. In addition to these there were a significant number of Money Back Guarantee claims usually clubbed with result oriented/outcome related claims.
The education category saw an increase of 23 pc in complaints. There were 1728 ads against which complaints were raised, out of which, 99 pc required modification and 1 pc was nullified.
The mediums splits were as follows, 90 pc on Print Medium, 8.8 pc on Digital, and 1.2 pc on TV.
The category registered a massive increase of 472 pc increase in complaints during 2021-2022. Out of the 383 ads on which complaints were registered, 94 pc required modification and 3 pc were dismissed.
Most violative claims in the Gaming sector were pertaining to leadership, guaranteed winnings, prize money assurance and safety, security & privacy claims. Other claims like consumer trust – trusted by 3 billion users etc., and comparative claims like win better, Xtimes more winnings were also seen.
The medium split of the ads were 99 pc digital.
Advertising by this category was not so prominent in the previous years.
Most advertisements looked into under this sector were influencer disclosure cases where influencers were talking about how to navigate the VDA platforms, or sharing information about the category and how the platform is easy to operate. From some of the ads that made misleading claims, leadership & consumer trust claims were most common. Guaranteed earnings, performance comparisons with other mode of investments like Gold and stock investment followed. The other commonly found claims revolved around promoting the category through referral program claims like refer a friend and win.
394 ads were looked into this category during 2021-2022.
Compared to the other categories, healthcare witnessed a drop in the number of complaints filed. The category registered 20 pc decrease when compared to previous year.
775 ads were looked into and out of which 98 pc required modification.
5 Ads featuring Celebrities were found to be misleading and 15 Ads with Influencer
Most violative claims in the Healthcare category revolved around leadership, awards & rankings and comparative claims specifically under Clinics & Hospitals. Treatment assurance claims were also fairly common. For Drugs and Medicinal products claims of cure – prevention – protection were the most common. Health condition reversal and product performance claims were among the other violative claims noted. There has been a rise in the occurrence of natural ingredient/procedure led treatment/cure claims.