ASCI braces for rash of complaints as awareness drive set to take off

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), which on 24 August is launching a campaign to increase confidence in Indian advertising on television and print media, can well cope with the expected increase in public complaints, chairman Sam Balsara says.

The ASCI is going all out to increase consumer awareness about advertisements and the ASCI's role in industry. "Lie and you shall be answerable to ASCI," is the new credo being adopted and will feature very prominently on all their advertisements.

With this form of redressal available to the consumer, would not the number of complaints go up substantially? And would the ASCI be able to cope? Judging from past experience, though complaints will generally increase, many are common ones so the existing machinery already in place will be able to cope, Balsara says.

The 30-second ad will not be the usual grind of models trying to convince you that whatever they are selling is all that you require to achieve Nirvana in your poor life. The new campaign is targeted at customers asking them get proactive with their complaints about misleading advertisements.

The campaign will feature well-known consumer activist Priya 'Rajani' Tendulkar, who will exhort consumers not to take things lying down and voice their complaints if they come across dishonest, misleading or indecent advertisements.

The necessary mechanisms to see that the consumer is protected have been put in place already. The ASCI print ad reads: "If an ad is wrong, we will set it right. If an ad is indecent, misleading or dishonest, we will set it right."

The commercial is expected to air on all Hindi television channels at timings to be to be fixed with respective channels, with regional channels to follow suit in different languages by the middle of next month. Sony, Zee and Star have already agreed to air the ad.

When contacted, Sandeep Goyal, group CEO (broadcasting) Zee Telefilms, said: "We will definitely put up the ad wherever we can. If there is a gap available in prime time slot, we will definitely plug in the ad. After all its for everyone's good."

Conceived by Madison Creative and produced by Kuttu Chatterji of Hi-Class films, the film has been provided free of cost to the council. Complaints from consumers protesting have seen a big decline from over the past few years but intra industry complaints have seen a steep rise where rival agencies keep each other on their toes in the ever-increasing competitive scenario of today. Approximately 150 complaints are received by the ASCI council in a year with around 85 per cent being resolved with the errant advertiser making the necessary changes to the misleading ads.

This forum has been available for quite some time but the common man is unaware of its existence and the manner to approach the problems he /she faces.

ASCI is a non-profit organisation, with members comprising of the media itself. There are four broad-based categories which have four elected members (professionals from the advertisement industry) to form a board. Upon receiving complaints the errant advertiser is informed about the situation with advice to get the necessary changes implemented.

Hopefully the consumer will benefit with better quality products with this campaign .

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