"The ASCI Academy is a timely response to the changing advertising landscape marked by shorter campaigns": ASCI's Manisha Kapoor

"The ASCI Academy is a timely response to the changing advertising landscape marked by shorter campaigns": ASCI's Manisha Kapoor

The Academy embeds self-regulation right at the point of the inception of advertisements.

Manisha Kapoor

Mumbai: The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has unveiled the ASCI Academy, a pioneering initiative poised to amplify the advertising industry's capacity to create more responsible and progressive advertising campaigns. Building upon ASCI's established corrective role which comes alive post ad publication, this  pioneering platform embeds self-regulation right at the point of the inception of  advertisements.

In today's digital landscape, characterised by brief campaign durations and a surge in number of advertisers, the ASCI Academy is positioned to empower current and future industry professionals including influencers and students with a foundational understanding of advertising regulations, ensuring ethical practices from the outset.

The ASCI Academy's core mission is to cultivate a cohort of advertising professionals dedicated to upholding responsibility in advertising, ultimately upholding consumer trust in brands.

The Academy has over 50 founding partners and supporters including Cipla Health Ltd, Coca-Cola India Pvt Ltd, Colgate-Palmolive (India) Ltd, Diageo India, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Mondelez India Foods Pvt Ltd, Nestlé India Ltd, PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt Ltd., Procter & Gamble Home Products Pvt Ltd, several leading universities and colleges, prominent Civil society organisations such as Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, Consumer Voice, CUTS, CMS and others, and, industry bodies  like the ISA, AAAI, IAA and ISWAI, as well as research insight organisations.

Indiantelevision.com caught up with ASCI CEO & secretary general Manisha Kapoor, where she provides details on the reason for launching this academy, on ASCI guidelines, and more….

Edited excerpts

On the reason for forming  ASCI Academy

The ASCI Academy is a timely response to the changing advertising landscape marked by shorter campaigns and a surge in advertisers. It aims to shift self-regulation from ad publication to creation, emphasizing ethical practices from the outset. By consolidating ASCI's thought leadership and education programs, the Academy equips industry professionals, influencers, and students with a deep understanding of advertising regulations, promoting responsible advertising practices right from the start. It's a pivotal move towards fostering ethical advertising practices in an evolving industry.

On the aim behind ASCI altering its guidelines on health & finance influencers

ASCI updated its guidelines for health and finance influencers to adapt to the changing digital landscape and combat potential issues related to misleading advertising in these sectors. The aim is to ensure greater transparency, accuracy, and responsibility in influencer marketing, especially in areas where misinformation can have serious consequences.

For health influencers, the new guidelines require them to possess suitable qualifications in the health and nutrition field. This ensures that influencers have the necessary knowledge to provide accurate information about health-related products.

For financial influencers, particularly in the BFSI sector, SEBI registration is now mandatory when offering investment advice. Qualifications are also required for other financial advice, enhancing the credibility and reliability of financial guidance provided by influencers.

These changes align with the Department of Consumer Affairs' and other government entities’ mandate, requires experts, celebrities, and influencers in health, fitness, and finance to disclose their qualifications when endorsing products or services. This step will help in ensuring consumers receive reliable information, especially in the era of widespread financial advice on social media.

On  consumers relying on influencers despite of tons of misinformation available on the internet

Despite the abundance of misinformation on the internet, consumers continue to rely on influencers for several compelling reasons, as revealed in ASCI's Influencer Trust Report (Feb. 2023). The report, based on a survey of 820 individuals, found that 79 per cent of respondents trust influencers. This trust significantly impacts consumer behavior, with 90 per cent of respondents admitting to making at least one purchase influenced by an influencer's recommendation. Consumers have a unique relationship with influencers, relying on them for advice and product suggestions. This trust in influencers has made influencer marketing a highly effective tool for brands.

In essence, consumers' trust in influencers persists because these digital personalities have successfully built credibility, authenticity, and relatability in the eyes of their followers. As a result, their recommendations carry significant weight and impact consumer behavior, contributing to the enduring popularity and effectiveness of influencer marketing in the digital age.

On ASCI benefiting from the various tie-ups to educational institutes

ASCI's collaborations with educational institutions through the ASCI Academy strategically close the knowledge gap in academia. While schools excel in teaching marketing effectiveness, they often overlook regulatory and ethical aspects in communication—a critical omission given the impact on brand reputation and risk.

These alliances empower ASCI to seamlessly integrate ethical and regulatory dimensions into academic curricula. Future marketing professionals not only grasp marketing effectiveness but also understand their ethical obligations in communication. This enriches ASCI's programs, shaping students who appreciate that ethical advertising practices are vital not just for compliance but also for safeguarding brand reputation in our closely monitored digital age.

Beyond education, these partnerships bring fresh perspectives, keep ASCI at the industry's forefront, and nurture emerging talents. Our collaborations enhance ASCI's thought leadership, bolstering its programs and promoting relevant research, cementing its status as a major influencer in advertising ethics and regulation.

Our partnerships provide fresh perspectives, keeping ASCI up-to-date with industry trends and ethics. We spot and support emerging talent during their academic journey, ensuring a future workforce versed in responsible advertising. These collaborations also enhance ASCI's thought leadership, strengthen educational programs, and promote industry-related research, solidifying ASCI as a pivotal influence in advertising ethics and regulation.

On ASCI's guidelines on generative AI in today’s advertising world

In the world of contemporary advertising, Generative AI has emerged as a dominant force. It has transformed the landscape by allowing advertisers to automate the creation of diverse content, spanning from text and images to articles and marketing materials. While this technology presents incredible opportunities, it's important to acknowledge the challenges and risks it brings. These challenges include potential copyright issues, the need to prevent the generation of unlawful content and concerns related to data privacy.

At ASCI, we recognise the significance of Generative AI in Advertising, we have taken a proactive step by releasing a comprehensive whitepaper titled 'Leveraging Generative AI: Opportunities, Risks, and Best Practices.' This paper highlights the existing regulatory uncertainties and the complexities involved in employing AI in advertising.

As the evolving landscape continues to present uncertainties, we acknowledge there are several ambiguities. Prior to the establishment of formalized guidelines, advertisers can refer to the principles outlined in our whitepaper. These principles can serve as a valuable framework for making decisions regarding accountability, operational transparency, and assessing the broader societal impact of AI in advertising.