Congress print advertorial has LIC, SBI, Mother Dairy fuming

NEW DELHI: Even as the Election Commission and the Supreme Court are grappling with the issue of surrogate political advertising on the electronic medium, it is the turn of the print medium to be invaded by the advertising ghost.



Some institutions like the State Bank of India, Mother Dairy and Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) have taken strong exceptions to the usage of their logos and emblems in an advertorial in the latest issue of India Today magazine, apparently released by the Congress party, without any prior permission.

In a letter written to Orchard --- also marked to the editor of India Today as well as the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) - LIC has pointed out that its logo has been used in the advertorial "unauthorisedly in contravention to the standard norms for self-regulation" as prescribed by ASCI.

While Orchard could not be contacted for comments,'s efforts to elicit a response from the Congress proved futile. One of the party spokespersons Kapil Sibal refused to speak on the matter saying he did not look after the advertising aspects, while another senior leader associated with the media cell of the party, Jairam Ramesh, did not have time to entertain's query when contacted in the evening.

The advertorial, released under the name of Orchard ( a Leo Burnett outfit that is involved in doing the creatives for Congress' advertising campaigns), appears on India Today's pages 37-39 and goes on to enlist the reasons why the Congress should not be voted back to power. Amongst the reasons, it is also insinuated that established organizations like LIC, State Bank of India and Mother Dairy have flourished under Congress regimes.

Political and legal experts pointed out that if LIC has written a letter on the issue of an advertisement that is purportedly political in nature, the matter is likely to take a turn towards a controversy, a la surrogate political advertising on television. Which all logo could be used or cannot be used in such a scenario would always be open to debate and add fuel to the fire, experts pointed out.

The letter from LIC also details --- para 2 chapter 4 and para 3 of chapter 1 --- the guidelines formed by the advertising industry on usage of logos and emblem and states that the Congress advertorial shows "clear infringement of self regulation norm."

Pointing out that LIC was formed in 1956 by an Act of Parliament and has recently been described as the No. 1 service brand in an ORG-Economic Times survey, LIC has sought an "unqualified apology from you (Orchard)" to be published in India Today at the cost of the advertising agency, failing which , the letter states, the Corporation would be "constrained to take such other steps which we deem necessary."

SBI and Mother Dairy, it is also learnt, have registered their objection on this particular advertorial.

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