ASCI processes complaints against misleading ads

04 Mar,2019

By A Correspondent


In October and November 2018, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) investigated complaints against 389 advertisements of which the advertisers ensured corrective action for 112 advertisements. ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 232 advertisements from a total of 277 advertisements evaluated by them. Of these 232 advertisements, 95 belonged to the education sector, 53 to the healthcare sector, 36 to the food and beverages sector, 23 to personal care, and 20 were from the others category.


Amongst various advertisements that were examined, the CCC observed that, a cricketer endorsing a bike brand shown driving rashly and violating traffic rules amounted to manifesting a disregard for safety. In addition to this, a celebrity was found to endorse a shampoo claiming to keep hair non-stop fresh for up to 72 hours. In another advertisement a celebrity was endorsing a well-known brand of glasses promising that the product blocks harmful blue rays from digital media unlike other glasses.


A significant number of complaints looked into by the CCC pertained to F&B sector. The most common reason for upholding complaints were unsubstantiated and exaggerated claims that exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge. It was also observed that the advertisements had unsubstantiated leadership claims, improper use of FSSAI logo in contravention of the FSSAI advisory, organic claims, disparagement of healthy eating habits as well as surrogate advertisements.


D Shivakumar

Said D Shivakumar, Chairman, ASCI: “ASCI and FSSAI recently concluded their second year of collaboration via an MOU. FSSAI had given ASCI a mandate for comprehensive Suo Moto surveillance of potentially misleading advertisements in the F&B sector. Over 200 misleading advertisements have been looked into by the CCC and their compliance status was updated to FSSAI. This co-regulation model has been quite effective in ensuring compliance and was recently also referred in a Rajya Sabha question.”


The following advertisements were in violation of ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising. The advertisers did not provide any evidence to show that the celebrities did due diligence prior to lending their name for the endorsements, to ensure that all description, claims and comparisons made in the advertisement are capable of substantiation:


Hero MotoCorp Ltd (Hero Xtreme 200r): In the advertisement, cricketer Virat Kohli is seen driving rashly in normal traffic conditions. The advertisement portrays violation of traffic rules, shows dangerous practices and manifests disregard for safety. The advertisement showed speed manoeuvrability in a manner which encourages unsafe or reckless driving which could harm the driver and general public.  The TVC contravened Chapter III.3 of the ASCI Code and Clauses (a) (b) and (c) of the ASCI Guidelines for Advertisements depicting Automotive Vehicles.


L’Oreal India Pvt Ltd. (L’Oreal Extraordinary Clay Shampoo): The advertisement’s claim, “The power of pure clay in shampoo” is inadequately substantiated as it lacked specific scientific evaluation showing the effectiveness of clay and is misleading by ambiguity and implication. For the claim “keeps hair non-stop fresh for up to 72 hours” the advertiser did not provide appropriate scientific evaluation to substantiate the claim, hence is misleading by ambiguity and exaggeration and is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.


L’Oreal India P. Ltd. (Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water): The advertisement with celebrity Alia Bhat claimed, “Makeup off in just one swipe,” which was not substantiated. The claim is misleading by exaggeration, and is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. The advertiser did not provide any testimonials, or any evidence of the consent of the celebrity for the product efficacy claims.



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