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Tata Sky and Lokmat among 9 ads in May that ASCI indicts

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MUMBAI: India‘s advertising watchdog, ASCI, has upheld complaints made against nine advertisements in May, including that of Tata Sky‘s tirade against cable TV and Marathi newspaper Lokmat‘s tall circulation claims in Pune.

The Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) found Tata Sky‘s print ad stating ‘Cable is just a Dabba‘ as unfairly denigrating other products. The direct-to-home (DTH) operator was referring to the cable set-top boxes (STBs) as ‘dabba‘ implying that it was of non standard or poor quality box, which is not the fact.

The ad, which appeared in The Hindu‘s Chennai edition (dated 30 March 2012), contravened Chapter IV.1 (e) of the Code, ASCI pointed out.

In the wake of digitisation mandated by the government, DTH operators have launched aggressive ad campaigns to take away share from cable TV networks. Airtel digital TV, for instance, launched an ad stating "Sirf Cable Nahi Life Badlo", urging consumers to make the shift away from cable to DTH.

The government has fixed 31 October as the deadline for digitisation in the four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, pushing back the sunset date of analogue cable by four months.

The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI also upheld the complaint against Lokmat‘s ‘No. 1 Newspaper‘ ad in which the Marathi daily claimed to have added 65,000 readers in SEC A segment in Pune. The watchdog pointed out that Lokmat did not mention the period over which this growth has been attained, which in itself is misleading.

As per IRS 2011 Q4, in the last quarter Lokmat has added only 5000 SEC A readers in Pune city. The CCC concluded that Lokmat‘s claim in Pune was misleading as the advertisement did not mention the reference period pertaining to the source data. The advertisement contravened Chapter I.4. of the ASCI Code.

Brooke Bond‘s ad to promote its Red Label Natural Care Tea brand was indicted for not adequately substantiating the claims made for enhancing immunity by consuming the tea product. In the ad, Broke Bond had said that the product has a "scientifically proven combination of five ayurvedic ingredients (tulsi, ashwagandha, mulethi, ginger and cardamom) to strengthen "your body‘s defence" and, thus, helps in protecting "you and your family from cold, cough and flu". It further stated that it "is clinically shown that drinking three cups of Brooke Bond Red Label Natural Care daily helps enhance one‘s immunity". The advertisement contravened Chapter I.1 of the Code.

Another complaint upheld was IMS - Score more at BBA / BBS. The ad that appeared on its website claimed that ‘143 IMS students got selected into SSCBS in the year 2011‘. The ad shows a bar chart showing selection of IMS students into SSCBS over the years 2008 to 2011. The CCC concluded that, in the absence of validation by an independent agency / Chartered Accountant, the claims mentioned in the advertisement and cited in the complaint, were not substantiated.

Glenmorangie‘s print advertisement which appeared in Conde Nast India in the February 2012 issue was complained against and upheld. The ad states: "Why is it so important that we only use our casks twice? Taste Glenmorangie and the question becomes rhetorical". The visual depiction of the brand name is suggestive of a well-known brand of liquor- Glenmorangie. In the absence of specific information, the ad appears to be a surrogate advertisement for Glenmorangie. The CCC concluded that it was surrogate ad for a brand of alcohol- Glenmorangie. The advertisement contravened Chapter III.6 of the Code.

Alchemist‘s claim of ‘India‘s most successful MBA prep‘ was pulled up too. It has not been backed up and substantiated and there is no validation / check by any independent agency that confirms this claim. In the absence of any proof, supporting information, from the Advertiser, the CCC concluded that the claim, ‘India‘s Most Successful MBA Prep‘ was not substantiated. The advertisement contravened Chapter I.1 of the Code.

Shree Maruti Herbal‘s print advertisement on ‘Maruti Stay -On Capsules & Oil‘ was complained against and upheld for claiming it ‘helps improve vitality, stamina and energy‘. The website also claims ‘Stay-On guarantees - Sexual performance of adults in all age groups‘. The CCC concluded that the claim, ‘helps improve vitality, stamina and energy‘, was not substantiated. The advertisement contravened The Drugs & Magic Remedies Act. Also, the advertisement tends to create, by implication, a perceived inadequacy of physical attributes, in this case the impotence and infertility, which could be objectionable to both men and women. The advertisement contravened Chapters I.1, III.4 and I.5 (d) of the ASCI Code.

Jake‘s Beauty-Spa-Salon & Academy received a complaint related to its design and copy. It is similar to the Complainant‘s ad of ‘Schnell Hans Salon Spa & Academy‘. The CCC concluded that the headline, ‘Your Passport to Success‘, was similar to the complainant‘s advertisement and, thus, suggested plagiarism. The ad contravened Chapter IV.3 of the Code.

The ad of Nikon camera was also upheld. According to the complainant, the TV commercial required permission from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) for the use of birds in advertisement or films. In the application by Nikon, permission was asked for four sparrows to be shown in their natural habitat with a girl playing and passing through. In reality, the birds turned out to be cockatiels which are being used as toys by the girl and perch on her shoulders among other things. The CCC concluded that as the requisite permission was not received from the AWBI to shoot cockatiels in the TVC, it was in violation of The Performing Animals Registration Rules 2001. The advertisement contravened Chapter III.4 of the Code.

During the month of May, the CCC also received complaints against five television commercials. The complaints were received against the ads of Midas Care‘s Clean & Dry cream, Sprite Cold drink, Emami‘s Fair & Handsome for Men, Gillette Mach 3 and Extra Strong Axe. However, as these ads did not contravene ASCI‘s codes or guidelines, the complaints were not upheld.

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