ASCI clocks in an initiative-driven impactful 3rd quarter with a surge in the number of complaints.
According to ASCI’s Q3 Complaint Analysis report, The third quarter of the financial year had a high impact and was an initiative-led quarter for ASCI. The initiatives focused on guidances for the industry, consumer education, and streamlining of processes for effective set regulatory practices.
ASCI has introduced industry-focused initiatives for consumer protection. In October 2020, ASCI introduced the COVID-19 advisory for advertisers, to protect consumers from being misled during the pandemic. Soon after, in November 2020, ASCI introduced guidelines for online gaming for “real-money winnings”, to protect audiences from risks associated with games involving real money. The guidelines received much appreciation and backing from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Earlier in 2020 ASCI had also introduced guidelines for usage of awards/rankings in advertisements, by brands.
In early September, ASCI expanded its national Advertising Monitoring Service (NAMS) to add digital advertising to its suo motu screening; more than 3,000 digital platforms are being currently tracked.
The ASCI brought in a thought leadership initiative; a study commissioned in partnership with the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and conducted by NielsenIQ called “The Trust in Advertising study: 2020” to get a pulse of the consumer in terms of advertising and their trust in it.
The initiatives drove a lot of conversations in the media, on social media, and various other forums, which obviously drove consumer education and awareness. Another impact of the constant buzz on various channels was the increase in the number of complaints processed by ASCI in the quarter.
COVID-19 Advisory found 236 COVID Violations in 2020. The Guidelines for Qualification of Brand Extension discovered 17 violations of the Guidelines
Between October and December, the ASCI team looked into 1885 complaints originating from 1,230 advertisements. On receipt of communication from ASCI, 251 of these advertisements were withdrawn/ amended by the advertisers. From the remaining advertisements, ASCI’s independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 902 advertisements – 582 were from the education sector, 128 from healthcare, 64 from food and beverages, 25 from personal care, 99 from other categories, and 4 that amounted to surrogate advertising; complaints against 77 advertisements were not upheld as these advertisements were not found to be in violation of the ASCI Code.
Some of the themes that emerged during the quarter October-December were education (job guarantees, placements, etc.) and healthcare (false claims about COVID-19 cures and preventions) advertising. Other complaints included those against brands issuing comparative advertisements while prominent cases against honey brands were also in the spotlight. During the third quarter, complaints regarding surrogate advertising also picked up post the IPL.
Overall, in 2020, ASCI looked into 6527 complaints that were registered against 3,315 advertisements, of which 2,357 were upheld. Education (1062) and healthcare (827) topped the list for the year as well. Some of the numbers for other categories, 117 food and beverage advertisements were complained, 63 against personal care, 17 violations of guidelines for brand extension, 22 against real estate, 10 against visa and immigration services and 239 against ads from other categories.
Commenting on the report Manisha Kapoor, Secretary-General ASCI said, “The third quarter of the financial year involved initiatives leading to a positive impact on the industry and stakeholders. The quarter recorded the highest numbers in terms of complaints processing, compared to the previous two quarters which were a direct outcome of the pandemic. We hope to continue this momentum in the year ahead.”