It is very common to find an advertisement on the Television making highly exaggerated and ambiguous claims about the product. When some big brands make a claim in their ads, many of us do tend to believe them and this is exactly what some of them wish to exploit.
The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) under the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has banned 82 advertisements out of 148 complaints it received across segments during June 2015. Out of 148 advertisements against which complaints were upheld, 26 belonged to the Personal and Healthcare category, followed by 22 advertisements in the Education category, 9 advertisements in Food and Beverage category, 7 advertisements in media and entertainment category and 18 advertisements from other categories.
The banned ads are from prominent companies like L’Oreal India, CavinKare, Vicco Laboratories, Thyrocare, Amity University, Institute of Finance Banking and Insurance, Heinz India P. Ltd (Complan), TV 18 Broadcast (CNBC), Living Media Ltd (India Today), Flipkart Internet Pvt Ltd, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), Uber, Vodafone Essar Ltd, Honda Activa, and Snapdeal.
The reasons cited included the claims in the ads being either misleading or false or not adequately/scientifically substantiated and hence violating ASCI’s Code.
Like other countries around the world, India too has a self-regulatory organization (SRO) for advertising content – The Advertising Standards Council of India. The three main constituents of advertising industry – advertisers, advertising agencies and media- came together to form this independent NGO in 1985. The aim of ASCI is to maintain and enhance the public’s confidence in advertising. Their mandate is that all advertising material must be truthful, legal and honest, decent and not objectify women, safe for consumers – especially children, and also fair to their competitors.
If an ad that is released in India seems objectionable, a person can write to ASCI with their complaint. This complaint will be deliberated on by the CCC after providing due process to advertiser to defend the ad against the complaint and depending on whether the ad is in alignment with the ASCI code and law, the complaint is upheld or not upheld and if upheld then the ad is voluntarily either withdrawn or modified.
Here are few of the ads that were banned by ASCI during June 2014
Amity University : The advertisement claims, “Amity University ranked among the Top Universities in Asia by QS, a leading ranking organization”, was not substantiated.
L’Oreal India P. Ltd (GarnierPureActive Neem+ Tulsi High Foaming Face): The advertisement, promotional pamphlets and leaflets of the product claim, “removal of 99.9 % pimple causing germs” was found ambiguous and unsubstantiated.
L’Oreal India Limited (New Garnier Action Facewash): The claim in the advertisement of New Garnier Action Facewash, “1 tone fairer skin”, was not substantiated and was misleading by ambiguity.
Career Launcher: The claims in the advertisement state, “3 OUT OF 5 TOPPERS IN CLAT 2015 ARE CLSTians, 7 State Toppers & Counting”, were not substantiated.
Career Launcher: The advertisement claims, “CLAT CL Nagpur Students Create History! Swarnima Mukharjee AIR 204, Shrinkhala Shikhar AIR 606, Shivani Dixit AIR 561, Darshan Gandhi AIR 1472”. These claims were not substantiated.
Flipkart Internet Private Limited: The website communication claims the MRP of the product as Rs.799, when actual printed MRP on product is Rs. 399 which is being offered as the discounted price for Canvera. The website communication claims the MRP of the product as Rs. 999, when actual printed MRP on product is Rs. 449 which is being offered as the discounted price for OBS. This distorts facts and is therefore misleading the consumers as to actual discount being offered.
Uber: The advertisement by Uber states, “You drink, we drive”, when read in conjunction with the depiction of logos of Bars such as Zara etc. as #UBERAPPROVED PARTNERS, was seen to promote alcohol drinking.