During the month of November 2019, ASCI investigated complaints against 408 advertisements, of which 137 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers on receipt of communication from ASCI. The independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI evaluated 271 advertisements, of which complaints against 248 advertisements were upheld. Of these 248 advertisements, 159 belonged to the education sector, 44 belonged to the healthcare sector, eight to personal care, four to the food & beverages sector, and 33 were from the ‘others’ category.
While most of the advertisements were evaluated for making misleading claims, the CCC also upheld complaints against a couple of advertisements for encouraging disregard for safety. A TVC showing a pillion riding barber shaving a policeman in uniform on his way to work was considered to be inappropriate, contravening ASCI Guidelines for Advertisements depicting Automotive Vehicles. Complaint against a drama serial promo indicating the protagonist doing self-harm by stifling her neck with a cloth (duppata) was also upheld.
TVC for a popular pain relief gel claiming “#1 Doctor recommended active for acute pain relief” was considered to be misleading as the terminology “#1 Doctor recommended active” was ambiguous. It omitted a keyword “ingredient” which would be understood by general consumers. Visual presentation of a claim by a popular roll on a deodorant product of dramatically changing dark underarms to a fair in five days was considered to be misleading.
Several advertisements featuring celebrities were caught on the wrong foot for making misleading claims. Advertisement of a popular diagnostic company featured a Bollywood superstar who endorsed their claim of the diagnostic lab being “preferred by most doctors”, which was considered to be misleading by exaggeration and implication. One of India’s well-known toothpaste manufacturers featuring another renowned Bollywood celebrity claimed that every other toothpaste containing calcium is cheating customers. The advertisement also denigrated the entire category of “calcium-containing white” toothpaste while implying the superiority of their ayurvedic toothpaste. Advertisements featuring another legendary Indian cricketer were considered to be misleading for claims such as “No flicker” for a flicker control LED product and “25% faster charging & 25% extra back up” capacity for an inverter battery.
Shweta Purandare, Secretary-General, ASCI said “Consumers are exposed to a significant amount of advertisements on a daily basis. Children and youth are thereby greatly influenced not only for the product choices but also by what is being depicted in the advertisements and celebrity endorsements. Responsible advertising means depicting safe practices and not encourage negligence. It is also the responsibility of Celebrities to check the authenticity of the claims they endorse and serve their role of informed influencers.”