Mumbai: During the month of April 2019, ASCI investigated complaints against 206 advertisements, of which 49 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers as soon as they received the ASCI communication. The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI upheld complaints against 114 advertisements out of 157 advertisements evaluated by them. Of these 114 advertisements,59 belonged to the education sector, 35 belonged to the healthcare sector, five to personal care,two to the food & beverages sector and 13 were from the ‘others’ category.
The CCC observed that one renowned cricketer was endorsing a prominent brand for payment gateway, implying leadership claim and presenting the product as a “card” which was not substantiated and was misleading. A well known refrigerator brand’s claim of keeping vegetables fresh for up to 30 days was considered to be misleading. In one instance, “100% Genuine Medicines” claim by an online pharmacy was not substantiated with any verifiable supporting data such as a list of registered FDA approved pharmacies supplying the said medicines. A learning app was making a claim of millions of students learning from their app which was not substantiated.
A large number of complaints were pertaining to the education sector wherein the advertisers were making unsubstantiated claims of they being No. 1, winning awards or “100% placement” luring students.The CCC also came across a significant number of advertisement of hospitals and clinics making unsubstantiated claims about their services being the best, they being bestowed various awards or the hospitals being able to curevarious conditions ranging from infertility to piles, diabetes, HIV and Cancer.
Mr D Shivakumar, Chairman, ASCI said, “Over the last three decades, we have worked on many fronts to ensure awareness and acceptance of self-regulation in advertising. More recently ASCI has launched its digital campaign “Self-Regulate before it is too late”, towards encouraging better industry participation for protecting self-regulation of advertising. It is important that advertisers work together with ASCI to build a strong and cohesive self-regulatory ecosystem to ensure that advertising stays trustworthy and independent of external controls.”
The following are some of the Ad Campaigns from prominent brand that were pulled up by ASCI:
- NESTLE INDIA LTD (NesPlus Multigrain Kokos): The advertisement’s claims, “Stays Crunchy even in warm milk” and “Jo RahegaGaramDoodh me bhiKadak” were supported with data that the product remains “crispy” for up to four minutes in warm milk. Reference to this time period was missing in the advertisement. The TVC and print advertisement was misleading by omission and ambiguity, andin contravention of ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers.
- United Breweries Ltd (Kingfisher Radler Bottle Artwork, Kingfisher Radler Lemon Can Artwork): The television advertisement’s claim, “100% natural”, is in violation of the FSSAI Notification dated 19th November 2018 (Schedule V), which refrains advertisers from using “natural” in the advertisement unless it meets certain criteria. As per the FSSAI Notification “Composite foods cannot be described directly or by implication as `natural’ but may be described as `made from natural ingredients’. Based on this observation, it was concluded that the claim, “100% Natural” for this composite beverage was misleading and is in contravention of the ASCI Code.
- Meenakshi Mission hospital & research centre: The television advertisement’s claims (as translated to English), “Our Meenakshi Mission hospital, first laparoscopy treatment was done in world level”, “In 1993, world’s first laparoscopy treatment was done to remove lung and liver tumours” and “……. Always first, ……..” were not substantiated with verifiable data such as comparison with other hospitals worldwide to prove that they werethe first to perform laparoscopic surgery to remove lung and liver tumours, or any audited market survey data, or through a third-party validation.
- PharmEasy: The advertisement claim, “100% Genuine Medicines” was not substantiated with any verifiable supporting data such as a list of registered FDA approved pharmacies who have tie-ups with the advertiser and how the advertiser ensures that all medicines supplied are 100% genuine.
- Toppr Technologies Pvt Ltd (Toppr Learning App): The print advertisement’s claim, “7 Million students are learning on Toppr” was not substantiated with authentic supporting evidence or with an independent audit or a verification certificate.
- Paisabazaar Marketing and Consulting Private Limited:The advertisement’s claim, “2 minute mein loan approval” (“Loan Approval* in 2 minutes”) regardless of the disclaimer, “…..*Provisional Loan Approval in 2 minutes”, is misleading as the key operative word “provisional” is missing in the voice over itself. The claim, “Loan Approval in 2 Minutes “with the protagonist categorically stating “fatafat paisa aapke account mein”, implies that the money would be available in the person’s account as quick as in two minutes, whereas the actual fact is that the transfer of money could take upto ten days. Any normal Customer is bound to believe that the Loan will be approved in two minutes and amount will be credited almost immediately. The advertisement is misleading by ambiguity and implication.
- Hindustan Unilever Ltd (IndulekhaBringha Shampoo):It was concluded that IndulekhaBringha Hair Cleanser is not directly beneficial for hair growth like IndulekhaBringha oil. The advertisement called out benefits of Indulekha Oil and presented Indulekha Hair Cleanser as additional product. The Hair cleanser product depicting mnemonic of hair root identical to that shown on the oil product pack and claiming “prevents hair fall” was therefore considered to be misleading. The disclaimer in fine print at the back of the package stating `hair fall due to breakage’, was in violation of ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers.
- Hindustan Unilever Ltd (Dove Intense Repair Shampoo & Conditioner): The advertisement’s claim, “New” was not substantiated for the product formulation. The new packaging used a theta sign (θ) on a red background where the word NEW is mentioned; However, it was not shown as to what aspect of the product is new anywhere on the front of the container. On the rear side of the pack, it has been mentioned that NEW refers to ‘New Pack and Formulation’.Furthermore, in the advertisement, although it has been mentioned the word NEW (Naya) means new pack & new formulation, there is nothing to indicate that in fact there is a new formulation. The advertiser did not submit any authentic and verifiable evidence comparing the composition of the old formulation of Dove Intense Repair and the re-launched version. Advertiser did not submit physical sample of the old products as well. It was concluded that the claim “New” was not substantiated for the product formulation and was misleading by implication. The advertisement also contravened ASCI Guidelines on claiming “New/Improved”.
- Lotus Herbals Ltd (YouthRx Anti-Ageing transforming crème): The advertisement claim, “Contains Ground breaking Gineplex Youth Compound derived from potent natural ingredients that are clinically proven to accelerate lifting and firming”, and “The potent active ingredients include ginseng which activates cell metabolism and boosts collagen production and ginger which has more than 40 antioxidants and milk peptide” were not substantiated with technical details, composition of the product and evidence of product efficacy. The claims are misleading by exaggeration.
- Voltas Ltd. (Voltas Beko Refrigerator): The advertisement’s claim, “…tees din taksabziyaan fresh rahengi”, (Vegetables will remain Fresh up to 30 days) was not substantiated, and is misleading by ambiguity, implication, and exaggeration. The disclaimer in the advertisement talks of `specific vegetables’ remaining fresh which is contradictory to the voiceover and main message conveyed of keeping vegetables’ fresh, implying that all vegetables will remain fresh. Additionally the disclaimers in the TVC were not in the same language as the audio of the TVC (Hindi) hence contravened ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers.