The Consumer Affairs Ministry has directed industry bodies to ensure strict compliance with the provisions on surrogate advertisements prescribed in the guidelines for preventing misleading advertisements. This comes after it found that some alcohol and tobacco brands violate surrogate ad norms.

The industry bodies include the Advertising Association of India, Indian Society of Advertisers, International Spirits & Wines Association of India, Indian Broadcasting Foundation, Broadcasting Content Complaints Council, News Broadcasters and Digital Association, Advertising Standards Council of India, besides the industry chambers.

The Department of Consumer Affairs stated that it has observed these guidelines are not being adhered to by some brands, and the prohibited goods are still being advertised through surrogate goods and services. 

“During the recent sports events that were televised globally, many instances of such surrogate advertisements were noticed. It has been observed that many alcoholic spirits and beverages are being advertised under the garb of music CDs, club soda and packaged drinking water whereas the chewing tobacco and gutkha has taken the veil of fennel and cardamom. Moreover, many such brands are employing major celebrities that accentuates the negative impact on the impressionable youth amongst others,” the Ministry stated.

The Department has also observed several direct advertisements of alcoholic beverages on social media platforms.  . 

The Ministry pointed out that the guidelines clearly state that no surrogate or indirect advertisement can be done to promote products for which advertising is prohibited by portraying it as an advertisement for other goods or services that can be advertised by law. 

The Ministry said it had cautioned the advertisers’ associations that failure to ensure strict compliance with the concerned parties guidelines would lead to the CCPA to take stern action against the violators.