Anil Thakraney: Rap on the knuckles that leaves no mark

28 Dec,2011

By Anil Thakraney


According to a report published on this website, the ASCI has very recently upheld complaints against as many as 17 ads. Here’s the link to the full story:

Considering this figure pertains to ads that ran during just a two month period (July and August 2011), one has to say it is a rather large number. This indicates that Indian ads are on overdrive when it comes to either making tall claims or offending the consumers. Now, while I can understand brands being pulled up for ‘offensive’ material and their ads being knocked out, we must question if that punishment is enough for misleading ads.


Of the 17 culprits, the majority are ads that carry exaggerated/false claims, thus misleading the buyer. Car ads that boast of incredible mileage. Companies that offer ‘freebies’ to consumers. Ads that diss rival brands by putting out unscientific research studies. Tutorial classes that make dodgy claims of ‘best faculty’ and ‘most successful’ students. Detergent brands that claim to remove all sorts of stains without an authentic study to support them.


Here’s the problem: Substantial damage is done by these misleading ads by the time they get yanked off the media. A number of students would have enrolled in such dubious coaching classes. Many car buyers would have bought the brand, suckered by false mileage figures. And a number of housewives would have purchased the detergent powder, only to discover that the stains never disappeared. Which is why some advertisers will continue with this wrong practice as there’s no deterrent or punishment beyond the ad being killed.


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My own belief is this, purely on grounds of ethics: Industry leaders must come together and impose monetary penalties on adverts making false claims. So that there is some fear put into the minds of mischievous brand managers. And funds collected from these punishments can be donated to charitable causes.


I know this is an industry portal, and we must speak for the industry. Still, efforts need to be made so that under no circumstances does the end consumer get taken for a ride. Because we must never forget that we all exist because of her and him.



PS: What do you do when match day falls on Valentine’s Day? How can football fans pass on messages of love to their partners? Well, Puma shows the way.


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