Mumbai: In June2018, ASCI investigated complaints against 208 advertisements. For 63 advertisements, the advertisers promptly ensured corrective action as soon as the complaints were received. ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 89 advertisements From a total of 145 advertisements evaluated by them.
Of the 89 advertisements wherein the complaints were upheld, 27 belonged to the education sector, 25 to the healthcare sector, 15 to the food & beverages category, five to personal care and 17 were From the ‘others’ category.
The most common reason for upholding complaints was exaggeration of product efficacy and exploiting consumers’ lack of knowledge. 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. Moreover, claims that were not substantiated with any verifiable comparative data and claims which were misleading by ambiguity or by implication led to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
“ASCI’s evolving self-regulatory framework continues to be responsible and responsive to the needs of the consumers, the advertising industry and the regulators. Our focussed efforts towards building awareness and establishing better compliance in the industry, will continue to make a positive contribution to the advertising ecosystem.” said Shivakumar, Chairman, ASCI.
Following are some prominent Brands that came under the scrutiny of ASCI in the month of June 2018:
PepsiCo India Holding P. Ltd (Quaker Oats):In the advertisement, Claim “Quaker Oats me hai 2x More Protein and Fibre” was qualified with a disclaimer “*Per serve comparison with cornflakes. Reference: Atlas of Indian Foods”, which was not legible and not as per ASCI Guidelines on Disclaimers (font size, contrast, hold duration). Thecommercial was considered to be misleading by ambiguity and omission of the direct reference of such comparison in the Voice Over itself. The advertisement’s claim “Two times more protein” was misleading by ambiguity and implication and the commercial under reference contravened ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising.
The below two advertisements violated Chapter III (Unsafe Practices) of ASCI Code:
SpiceJet Ltd (SpiceJet): The visual of “a man inserting loose wires into a power socket and getting an electric shock, and also shown repeating this act again”, shows an unsafe and a dangerous practice, which manifests a disregard for safety and encourages negligence. It was also observed that dangerous act such as this is likely to encourage minors to emulate it in a manner which could cause harm or injury, and lead to them suffering shocks.
MalayalaManorama: In the advertisement, actor Dulquer Salman is playing the main lead of the driver who provides lift to different people without wearing a seat belt. It was concluded that the scene in the commercial of “a model in a car not wearing a seat belt while driving”, shows an unsafe practice. The commercial is likely to mislead consumers by implying that seat belt is not compulsory while driving.
Zydus Hospital: The advertisement’s claim, “No. 1 in Neurological Emergencies” and “Gujarat’s largest & advanced neuro science centre”, were not substantiated with any verifiable comparative data of the advertiser’s hospital and other similar hospitals to prove that they are in leadership position, Hence the claims are misleading by exaggeration.
Hindustan Unilever Ltd (Lifebuoy Soap): The TVC in totality creates an impression that Lifebuoy is recommended by doctors wherein the celebrity is posing as a doctor. In view of the Code of Medical Ethics prohibiting doctors From endorsing any product and in absence of any market research data indicating that medical professionals in general recommend the advertised product, such visual presentation was considered to be misleading by ambiguity and implication.
Kraft Heinz India Private Ltd – Complan: The advertisement’s claims, ONLY one cup of Complan has protein equivalent to one egg” and “Other Health drinks provide protein equivalent to half egg only.” were not substantiated. “Only Complan” is hyperbolic and the word ‘Only’ pertains to a comparison with similar products i.e. health food drinks catering to healthy growing children aged between 5 -15 years which are in competition with ‘Core Range’ of Complan. The claims were considered to be misleading by ambiguity and exaggeration as well as in contravention of the ASCI Guidelines on Disclaimers.
PepsiCo India Holding P. Ltd (New Tropicana Essentials-Fruits and Veggies): The advertisement’s claim, “New Tropicana Essentials” did not provide any supporting evidence to show that Tropicana Essentials was a “New” product. So the claim was misleading. Moreover, the claim “Why would I eat something which has hair?” read in conjunction with a picture showing “drawing of a carrot” and reference to “all goodness, no excuses”, disparaged good dietary practice and selection of options, such as fresh vegetables that accepted dietary opinion recommends should form part of the normal diet. The advertisement contravened ASCI Guidelines on Advertising of Foods & Beverages.
Britannia Industries Ltd (Britannia Whole Wheat Bread): The advertisement’s claim of the product being “New” was not adequately substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity and implication. Claim, “100% Whole Wheat Bread” on front of pack is misleading by ambiguity and omission.
Reliance JioInfocomm Ltd: The advertisement’s claim “Best Entertainment” was not substantiated with the superlative claim of being the best was misleading by ambiguity. Furthermore, the claim “Best post-paid offers” was not clear in terms ofwhich aspect of the advertiser’s product is being compared with which aspects of the competitor’s product. The advertisement is misleading by omission.
Myntra.com: The advertisement’s claim, “Here’s Rs. 300 on us”, is misleading by ambiguity and omission that the offer is only on select products, and that the offer is subject to terms and conditions.
Yatra Online Private Limited (Yatra.com): In the advertisement, the claim offer related to the Fare Type “refundable” was misleading by ambiguity regarding the extent and conditions of the refund, and by omission of a qualifier to mention that it is subject to terms and conditions.
Suzuki Motorcycle India Pvt Ltd. (Suzuki Access 125): The seat length data provided was a simple measurement given only in comparison with Honda Activa. The seat storage data provided were snapshots taken From web page of Suzuki and Honda, respectively. No data was provided to justify comparison with just one competing brand. The claims, “Zaasth Lambh seat”, “Motay storage” are misleading by omission of the basis of comparison and implication that the vehicle has better features than other two wheeler brands available in the market.
The below advertisement violated ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising:
Rasna Private Limited (Rasna):The advertisements claim, “Natural Fruit Energy”, was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity and implication about the fruit content in the product. The visual of celebrity Kareena Kapoor when seen in conjunction with the claim is likely to mislead consumers regarding the nature of product benefit and contravened the Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising.
The advertisements of the Jewellery brands, Nirvana Diamond Jewellery, Asmi Diamond Jewellery, Nakshatra Diamonds, Gitanjali Jewels, Gili, and Sangini Diamond Jewellersclaiming “India’s Most Preferred Jeweller”, was not substantiated with verifiable comparative data / market survey data of the advertiser’s product and other competitor diamond jewellers or through a third party validation. The source and date of the claim was not mentioned and the claim is misleading by ambiguity and omission.
ARG Outlier Media Asianet News P. Ltd (Republic TV): In the advertisement’s claim, the disclaimer put by the advertiser for the claim “India’s No. 1 Channel” is based on one day data (Period: Week 21 – 2018). The subject matter of comparison is chosen in such a way so as to confer an artificial advantage upon the advertiser so as to suggest that a better bargain is offered than is truly the case. Hence, the claim “India’s No. 1 Channel” disclaimers in the ad were too small which contravened ASCI’s Guidelines on disclaimers.