Ad watchdog ASCI frames norms for crypto ads

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani | Updated on: Feb 23, 2022
Subhash Kamath

Subhash Kamath

Words like currencies cannot be used by digital assets

If the crypto party got checked by new tax proposals in the recent Budget, here comes yet another bash breaker. Come April 1, all ads of virtual digital assets (VDAs) will need to carry prominent disclaimers warning consumers that these products are unregulated and highly risky.

Amid growing concerns about misleading ads, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has released guidelines for ads and promotion of VDAs that include cryptos and NFT products.

The guidelines state that words such as currencies, securities, custodian and depositories should not be used in such ads. Ads also cannot compare VDAs to other asset classes that are regulated and downplay the risk associated with the category.

Celebrity endorsers

With many industry players roping in celebrities for their high-decibel campaigns, the guidelines also put the onus on brand ambassadors to do due-diligence for claims made in these ads.

“Ads that provide information on the cost or profitability of VDA products shall contain clear, accurate, sufficient and updated information,” the self-regulatory industry body said. In addition, ads cannot contain statements that guarantee future increase in profits or show minors directly talking or dealing in the products.

Most importantly, the guidelines stressed that industry players cannot show that trading or investing in such products can be a solution for consumers’ money problems or personality problems. Each ad will need to clearly give the name of the player (advertiser) and details about the ways to contact them.

Subhash Kamath, Chairman of ASCI, said, “Advertising of virtual digital assets and services needs specific guidance, considering that this is a new and emerging way of investing.”

ASCI has specified the manner in which the disclaimers need to be carried for ads across platforms including print, TV, audio, social media and even in disappearing stories or posts. For instance, in TV ads, the disclaimer must be placed in text format at the end of the ad, against a plain background and accompanied by a voice-over (in the same language as the ad), which is not spoken in a hurried manner. The disclaimer must be visible on the screen for a minimum of five seconds and for long format videos of over two minutes, it should be repeated at the beginning and the end of the video.

Ashish Singhal, Founder and CEO, CoinSwitch, said that the norms are a step in the right direction to standardise ads in the VDA space.

ASCI also clarified that these guidelines do not amount to any legal recognition of this industry.

Published on February 23, 2022
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