ASCI upholds a record 99 complaints in January

MUMBAI: Kicking off the new year, The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) upheld the highest ever number of complaints against misleading advertisements in January.

Ninety-nine out of 108 complaints received have been upheld by the CCC. ASCI’s National Advertising Monitoring Service (NAMS) also contributed in tracking down the misleading claims made in ads in various sectors.

ASCI said in a statement, “The NAMS initiative has helped in strengthening the self-regulation and redressal process manifold. The proactive monitoring has helped in tracking a wider numbers of misleading ads month on month. This is a positive development as it is helping to protect consumer’s interest in India.”

The highest number of advertisements was pulled back in the healthcare segment with 28 complaints being upheld. The second highest number of complaints was upheld in the education sector with the CCC finding 22 advertisements misleading or making claims that are not substantiated by sufficient data. Sixteen advertisements in the personal care category, 10 in consumer durables segment, nine in the miscellaneous category, three each in the food and beverages and real estate segments and two advertisements in the media category were pulled up by the CCC as they were found to have contravened Chapter I.4 of the Code.

The advertisers that were asked to pull out or modify their ads for the month of January included Star India, Whirpool, Natraj Electricals, Radikal Foods, Bennett Coleman Co Ltd, Tata Housing Frankfin Institute of Air Hostesses, Marico, Hindustan Unilever, Gillette and Rupa.

Star India Ltd’s Star Cricket TVC shows “a boy with cricket bat jumping over a creek and his face changing to Chestshwar Pujara‘s”. The advertisement is trying to communicate that children who take risks turn into top cricketers. The element of risk is clearly visible when other children are shown astonished to see the feat of the boy jumping the creek. This scene clearly violates the ASCI Code. Also the shown jump seems morphed which accentuates the risk as normal child cannot jump such a broad creek.

The CCC concluded that the boy jumping over small creek shows a dangerous practice and manifests a disregard for safety without justifiable reason. The TVC contravened Chapter III.3 of the ASCI Code and the complaint was UPHELD.

BCCL’s ET NOW has a print advertisement that shows a comparison of viewership of some English business news channels in a stated target audience group and market. The primary objection is that the source of the data is not mentioned. Assuming that the source is TAM, the market share numbers stated in the graph are incorrect. The visual has pictures of people who are Engineers, Doctors, Entrepreneurs & Corporates whereas the TG stated for the graph is males, 25-44, Sec A which would include these professionals, students and non-working individuals as well. The CCC concluded that the source of the data substantiating the claim was not mentioned in the advertisement and the manner in which the comparative data was presented was misleading as the base level was not mentioned. The advertisement was found misleading and contravened Chapter I.4 of the Code. The complaint was, thus, upheld.

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