In India, Broadcasters cannot air advertisements that violate the code set by Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). ASCI is a voluntary organization self-regulating advertising content for advertising industry.
The Role and Functioning of the ASCI And its Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) is in dealing with Complaints received from Consumers and Industry, against Advertisements which are considered as False, Misleading, Indecent, Illegal, leading to Unsafe practices, or Unfair to competition, and consequently in contravention of the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising.
image source: ascionline.org
In November 2014, Consumer Complaints Council or CCC has Upheld complaints against 113 advertisers out of 144 advertisements. Out of 113 advertisements against which complaints were upheld, 61 belonged to Personal and Healthcare category, followed by the Education category with 33 advertisements.
The council has compiled a list of 58 advertisers in the health and personal care product or service segment to either misleading or false or not adequately/scientifically substantiated and hence violating ASCI’s Code.
In health and personal care product segment Complaints against following top advertisements were UPHELD.
Hindustan Unilever Ltd (Lifebuoy) : The advertisement of Lifebuoy claims to provide “10 x more germ protection” and “10 x more skin care” than any other soap which was not substantiated.
Godrej Consumer Products Ltd (Goodknight):The advertisement of Goodknight shows “a child standing near the mosquito vaporizer”, whereas the product’s lea flet includes a precaution that the electrical liquid vapourizing machine should be kept away from the reach of children . The advertisement features a dangerous practice, manifests a disregard for safety and encourages negligence.
Dr. Batra’s Homeopathy Clinic: The advertisement of Dr Batra’s Clinic claims to offer “Consultation with the Doctor and computerized hair test worth Rs. 2,000 now at just Rs. 250.”, “Limited period offer”, “Avail easy EMI options”, and the Website claims, “Confirm your appointment online @ Dr. Batra’s clinic, Pay just Rs. 99/- and get products worth Rs. 175/ – free.” “It also offers 10% off on treatment in its animation slides” , were not substantiated. The Website shows Dr. Batra promoting the clinic which is in violation of the Code of Medical Ethics for Homeopathy practitioners.
Dr. Batra’s Health Clinic: The advertisement of Dr. Batra’s Health Clinic Claims to offer revolutionary hair growth treatment from France which is a painless and non-surgical treatment. They further state that 77% have seen hair growth results in just eight weeks.
Dr. Batra’s Homeopathy Clinic (B Perfect Batras): The advertisement of B Perfect Batras claims “BRTIM lose weight in every sitting from first session”, “no diet and no exercise”,“Assured results”, “lose upto 5-8 cms in four sessions”, were not substantiated
Similarly advertisers in other sectors like e-commerce, telecom have also received the wrath of ASCI. Here are some the best brands of the country found to be either misleading or false by ASCI.
Jasper Infotech P. Ltd (Snapdeal.com): Snapdeal had advertised on 6th Oct 2014 in The Times of India giving heavy discounts but while purchasing the products these products were not available and were sold out or the rates were higher while clicking the buy button. The claim of “Snapdeal bachaey raho discount offer” was false and was not substantiated.
Godrej Consumer Products Ltd (Cinthol Deodorants): The advertisement shows alcohol-based deodorants being sprayed on ball pen art (art done by a ball point pen) resulting in the art getting dissolved. The advertiser seeks to instill fear in the mind of the consumers as if alcohol based deodorants can melt the human skin. Thus, the advertisement denigrates alcohol based deodorants.
Mahindra Retail Pvt. Ltd (Mom & Me): The advertisement of Mom & Me claims “Interest free EMI” which is misleading by omission, as the EMI scheme was not free since interest was to be paid after six months, which was not mentioned in the advertisement.
JK Cements Ltd (JK Wall Putty): The advertisement of JK Wall Putty claims “seelan mein bhi papdee ka koi chance nahin” was not substantiated with technical evidence.
Videocon Industries Ltd (Videocon Split A/C): The advertisement claims to offer zero percent interest and zero process fee by Bajaj Finance -just pay Rs. 2014 and the balance in equal EMIs. This is misleading as the processing fee is not zero as the complainant had to pay the extra processing charges during the purchase of the product.
Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance Company Ltd (Bajaj Allianz): The advertisement Claims to provide value added services such as 24×7 spot assistance, key and lock replacement cover along with the policy, fastest claims servicing through their 24 x7 call centre. The advertisement claims “3400+ numbers of garages across the country”. It also claims to offer battery, fuel, spare keys assistance flat tyres, minor repairs and towing. They further claim to provide “Legal Advice and Medical Coordination”, “Message Service and Taxi Benefits Accommodation Benefits” and “Additional savings of upto 30% on medicines, eye care, dental care and many more outlets.”These claims were not substantiated.
Nissan Motor India Pvt. Ltd (Datsun Go): The advertisement of Datsun Go claims of “Rs. 4000 insurance support”, was not substantiated and was misleading by ambiguity.
Renault India Private Limited (Renault): This advertisement of Renault claims of “free insurance” which is misleading as the advertisement does not mention a discount in lieu of insurance.
Coca-Cola India Inc (Coca Cola): The advertisement of Coca Cola states that it contains no fruit juice, etc. This mandatory audio in the radio spot was played too fast and was not comprehensible. The radio spot contravened the ASCI Guidelines on Supers.
Haldiram Foods International Pvt Ltd (Haldiram Prabhuji): This advertisement of Haldiram Prabhuji claims to offer “any 2 packs of mixtures/ bhujia are available for Rs. 100/-”, which in the absence of any disclaimers, was found to be misleading.
In education sector, the council found claims in the advertisements by 33 different advertisers were not substantiated and, thus, violated ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions. Complaints against advertisements of all educational institutes listed below were UPHELD because of unsubstantiated claims that they ‘provide 100% placement/AND/OR they claim to be the No.1 in their respective fields’:
- Ramanujan College of Management
- Sakthi Institute Information and Management Studies
- Kerala Small Industry Development Corporation Ltd (Kerala SIDCO)
- Shree Bhagwat Institute of Technology
- Shri Maharana Pratap Pvt. ITI
- Academy of Future Analysis (AOFA) College,
- Devsthali Vidyapeeth,
- IIHT Computer Education
- Kallam Haranadhareddy Institute of Technology
- K.Education Institute
- Little Kingdom School
- Lakshya Training Institute
- Mother India Private ITI
- SVKM’s Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies
- Orient Ocean Ship Management
- Swami Vivekanand University
- Apollo Computer Education
- ACME College of Engineering, Asian Institute,
- S R Institute of Management Technology (SRIMT)
- Dolls N Dons
- Institute of Technology & Management (ITM)
- Flora institute of Technology
- Heritage Institute of Hotel Management & Tourism
- Institute of Computerised Financial Accounting (ICFA)
- Ideal Eyes Business College
- Modern Institute of Fire & Safety Engineering
- Passion Acting Institute
- Speakwell Enterprises Pvt. L td and
- Tirupati Pvt Industrial Training Institute.
Link to ASCI CCC Decisions – Nov 2014