ASCI witnesses sharp rise in misleading ads in Aug-Sept

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on November 12, 2020

Education, pandemic-related claims in healthcare sectors top the list

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) said it upheld nearly 90 per cent of complaints made against advertisements in the August-September period.

The self-regulatory industry body stated that it received complaints against 317 ads in these two month, of which 64 were promptly withdrawn by the companies on ASCI’s intervention. Then ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) evaluated the remaining complaints against 253 advertisements, of which it upheld complaints against 221 advertisements.

“Of these 221 advertisements, 101 belonged to the education sector, 77 to healthcare, eight to food & beverages, seven to personal care, three to finance and investments and 25 were from other categories. Complaints against 32 advertisements were not upheld as they were found to not be in violation of the ASCI code,” the statement added.

Also read: IPL: ASCI ‘closely monitoring’ liquor brand extension ads

Manisha Kapoor, Secretary General of ASCI, said, “Covid-19-related claims as well as misleading education claims continued to dominate the kind of complaints we received at ASCI during this period. The independent Consumer Complaints Council, which comprises members of civil society as well as industry, jointly view such advertisements and adjudicate. The CCC goes deep into understanding the underlying complaint, and the advertiser response and justification before an opinion is given. ASCI’s only goal is to promote responsible advertising which safeguards consumers.”

A sharp rise in complaints against education sector ads making misleading and false claims was witnessed during August and September. Since many educational institutions could not present substantiating data for claims, such as being top of their field, ranked no. 1, or 100 per cent job placements, CCC declared such ads as misleading.

“ASCI also upheld misleading ad claims made on various digital platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Many such claims were taken up by ASCI suo motu. Many advertisers leverage consumers’ fears and insecurities, especially in this pandemic situation, to lure them to make product purchases. These ads were mostly related to the health sector, with brands falsely claiming to cure or prevent Covid-19,” the statement added.

Also read: ASCI asks brands to validate pandemic-related claims in ads

The self-regulatory industry body also upheld complaints against misleading claims made by non-healthcare advertisements such as a clothing company’s claims for being able to kill 99 per cent germs and an ad claiming that a fabric was anti-corona. Such companies were asked to modify their claims or withdraw their advertisements.

“ASCI received a unique direct complaint from a consumer regarding a campaign TVC run by a leading loan company. The TVC had people covering their mouth only till their nose with the mask. The CCC concluded that such advertisements misuse the Covid-19 situation and upheld the complaint,” the statement added.

Published on November 12, 2020

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