In the near future, Advertisers making claims like ‘biggest selling,’ ‘most popular’ and ‘most effective’ will have to substantiate their claims, especially in the case of health products as the consumer affairs ministry will issue a Dos and Don’ts Advertising Code that will help it identify misleading advertisements.
Sources said the ministry is looking into the best advertising codes of many countries such as New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States. “A draft discussion paper will be uploaded on our website for stakeholder consultation. There is a need to have a code for the benefit of consumers and also to help identify quickly which fall under misleading category, otherwise there will be a sea of complaints about misleading advertisements,” said an official.
Currently, the Advertising Standards Council of India, a self-regulatory voluntary organisation of the advertising industry has a Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising, which is not conditional. After the center notified the central consumer protection authority, which has a mandate to act against misleading advertisements, the need for a government code became essential. “There is a need to bring the proposed under regulation for their effective compliance. Simple guidelines won’t have the desired impact,” a source said.
The Consumer Protection Act stipulates that for celebrity endorsers, the companies engaging endorsers must disclose the content and claims in the advertisements to them in full, and they must execute due diligence. Countries that have a strong consumer protection regime state that the purpose of these codes is to ensure that each advertisement is responsible, lawful, respectable and truthful.