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ASCI upheld complaints against 114 advertisements out of 206. 49 other advertisements promptly withdrawn, 43 were not objectionable

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MUMBAI: During the month of April 2019, ASCI investigated complaints against 206advertisements, of which 49 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers as soon as they receivedthe ASCI communication. The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI upheld complaints against 114advertisements out of 157advertisements evaluated by them. Of these 114 advertisements,59belonged to the education sector, 35 belonged to the healthcare sector, five to personal care,two to the food & beverages sectorand 13were from the ‘others’ category.

The CCC observed that one renowned cricketer was endorsing a prominent brand for payment gateway, implying leadership claim and presenting the product as a “card” which was not substantiated and was misleading. A well known refrigerator brand’s claim of keeping vegetables fresh for up to 30 days was considered to be misleading. In one instance, “100% Genuine Medicines” claim by an online pharmacy was not substantiated with any verifiable supporting data such as a list of registered FDA approved pharmacies supplying the said medicines. A learning app was making a claim of millions of students learning from their app which was not substantiated. 

A large number of complaints were pertaining to the education sector wherein the advertisers were making unsubstantiated claims of they being No. 1, winning awards or “100% placement” luring students.The CCC also came across a significant number of advertisement of hospitals and clinics making unsubstantiated claims about their services being the best, they being bestowed various awards or the hospitals being able to curevarious conditions ranging from infertility to piles, diabetes, HIV and Cancer.

Mr D Shivakumar, Chairman, ASCI said,“Over the last three decades, we have worked on many fronts to ensure awareness and acceptance of self-regulation in advertising. More recently ASCI has launched its digital campaign “Self-Regulate before it is too late”, towards encouraging better industry participation for protecting self-regulation of advertising. It is important that advertisers work together with ASCI to build a strong and cohesive self-regulatory ecosystem to ensure that advertising stays trustworthy and independent of external controls.”

HEALTHCARE: - 35advertisements complained against

•    Direct Complaints (Threeadvertisements)
•    Suo Motu Surveillance by ASCI (32advertisements)

EDUCATION: - 59advertisementscomplained against

•    Direct Complaints (Four advertisements)
•    Suo Motu Surveillance by ASCI (55advertisements)

FOOD AND BEVERAGES: - 2advertisementscomplained against

•    Direct Complaints (Twoadvertisements)

PERSONAL CARE: - 5advertisement complained against

•    Direct Complaints (Threeadvertisement)
•    Suo Motu Surveillance by ASCI (Twoadvertisements)

OTHERS: - 13advertisements complained against

•    Direct Complaints (Eightadvertisements)
•    Suo Motu Surveillance by ASCI (Fiveadvertisements)

DIRECT COMPLAINTS

The advertisements given below were complained against by the general public or by industry members. Of the 70advertisementscomplained against, for 8 cases the advertisements were promptly withdrawn by theadvertiser on receiving ASCI communication.For the remaining 62 advertisements, complaints against 20 advertisements were upheld by the CCC of whichfour belonged to the Education sector,  threebelonged to Healthcare sector, threetoPersonal Care sector,two belonged to the Food & Beverages sector,  and eightto the ‘Others’ category.

Education

The CCC found that the claims made in following two advertisements were misleading by exaggeration and  exploited consumers’ lack of knowledge and lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. The advertisements also violated ASCI’s Guidelines for Advertising for Educational Institutions and Programs.

1.    Toppr Technologies Pvt Ltd (Toppr Learning App): The print advertisement’s claim, “7 Million students are learning on Toppr” was not substantiated with authentic supporting evidence or with an independent audit or a verification certificate. 

2.    LegalEdge Tutorials: The advertisement’s claim, “Crack CLAT in 55 Days” was not substantiated with verifiable supporting data. The claim “India’s Best Institute for CLAT” was not substantiated with any market survey data, or with verifiable comparative data of the advertiser’s coaching institute and other similar coaching institutes in India, to prove that it is better than the others in providing coaching for students for CLAT, or through an independent third party validation. 

Complaints against advertisements of two educational institutes listed below wereUPHELD mainly because they mademisleading and unsubstantiated claims such as providing 100% job placement guarantee  OR claiming to be the No.1 in their respective fields.

Goal Institute, 
Mumbai College of Hotel Management and Catering Technology.

Healthcare  

Following advertisements in the healthcare sector were found to be misleading that exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge and could lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers 

1.    Meenakshi Mission hospital & research centre: The television advertisement’s claims (as translated to English), “Our Meenakshi Mission hospital, first laparoscopy treatment was done in world level”, “In 1993, world’s first laparoscopy treatment was done to remove lung and liver tumours” and “……. Always first, ……..” were not substantiated with verifiable data such as comparison with other hospitals worldwide to prove that they werethe first to perform laparoscopic surgery to remove lung and liver tumours, or any audited market survey data, or through a third-party validation. 

2.    PharmEasy: The advertisement claim, “100% Genuine Medicines” was not substantiated with any verifiable supporting data such as a list of registered FDA approved pharmacies who have tie-ups with the advertiser and how the advertiser ensures that all medicines supplied are 100% genuine. 

3.    Sharanya Avenue(Know health- Summer weight loss 2019): The advertisement’s claim, “Up to 10kgs in one month with dietician Neha…!”, was not substantiated their treatment procedure for weight reduction nor did they provide evidence of their customers who achieved the claimed results of over 10 kg weight loss regardless of their physiological status with dietician Neha.  Claim, “1000 plus satisfied clients” was not substantiated with supporting evidence of the clients who have been successfully treated at the advertiser’s clinic. Also the claim, “Top 3 Winner Awards” was not substantiated with copy of the award certificates, details of the criteria for granting the award, references of the award received such as the year, source and category, and details about the awarding body, and is misleading by omission of disclaimer to qualify the same.   

Personal Care 

1.    Hindustan Unilever Ltd (IndulekhaBringha Shampoo):It was concluded that IndulekhaBringha Hair Cleanser is not directly beneficial for hair growth like IndulekhaBringha oil. The advertisement called out benefits of Indulekha Oil and presented Indulekha Hair Cleanser as additional product.  The Hair cleanser product depicting mnemonic of hair root identical to that shown on the oil product pack and claiming “prevents hair fall” was therefore considered  to be misleading.  The disclaimer in fine print at the back of the package stating `hair fall due to breakage’, was in violation of ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers.

2.    Hindustan Unilever Ltd (Dove Intense Repair Shampoo & Conditioner): The advertisement’s claim, “New” was not substantiated for the product formulation. The new packaging used a theta sign (θ) on a red background where the word NEW is mentioned; However, it was not shown as to what aspect of the product is new anywhere on the front of the container. On the rear side of the pack, it has been mentioned that NEW refers to ‘New Pack and Formulation’.Furthermore, in the advertisement, although it has been mentioned the word NEW (Naya) means new pack & new formulation, there is nothing to indicate that in fact there is a new formulation. The advertiser did not submit any authentic and verifiable evidence comparing the composition of the old formulation of Dove Intense Repair and the re-launched version. Advertiser did not submit physical sample of the old products as well. It was concluded that the claim “New” was not substantiated for the product formulation and was misleading by implication. The advertisement also contravened ASCI Guidelines on claiming “New/Improved”. 

3.    Lotus Herbals Ltd (YouthRx Anti-Ageing transforming crème): The advertisement claim, “Contains Ground breaking Gineplex Youth Compound derived from potent natural ingredients that are clinically proven to accelerate lifting and firming”, and “The potent active ingredients include ginseng which activates cell metabolism and boosts collagen production and ginger which has more than 40 antioxidants and milk peptide” were not substantiated with technical details, composition of the product and evidence of product efficacy. The claims are misleading by exaggeration.

Food and Beverage

The CCC found that the claims made in the following two advertisements were misleading that exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge and lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

1.    NESTLE INDIA LTD (NesPlus Multigrain Kokos): The advertisement’s claims, “Stays Crunchy even in warm milk” and “Jo RahegaGaramDoodh me bhiKadak” were supported with data that the product remains “crispy” for up to four minutes in warm milk. Reference to this time period was missing in the advertisement. The TVC and print advertisement was misleading by omission and ambiguity, andin contravention of ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers.

2.    United Breweries Ltd (Kingfisher Radler Bottle Artwork, Kingfisher Radler Lemon Can Artwork): The television advertisement’s claim, “100% natural”, is in violation of the FSSAI Notification dated 19th November 2018 (Schedule V), which refrains advertisers from using “natural” in the advertisement unless it meets certain criteria. As per the FSSAI Notification “Composite foods cannot be described directly or by implication as `natural’ but may be described as `made from natural ingredients’. Based on this observation, it was concluded that the claim, “100% Natural” for this composite beverage was misleading and is in contravention of the ASCI Code. 

Others    

The CCC found that the claims made in the following seven advertisements were misleading that exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge and lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. 

1.    EUREKA FORBES LTD (Dr.Aquaguard NRICH range of ROs): The advertisement’s claim, “Optimum amount of Micronutrients” / “Balanced Copper in Every Drop” was unsubstantiated and misleading by implication. The product configuration is based on BIS Standards and not on RDA standards, therefore, claims are related to safety and not to nutrients. The claim “Get equivalent power of dry-fruits” was not adequately substantiated as the composition as well as the overall bioavailability and nutritional value of ROs and Dry Fruits products are not comparable. The claim “Equipped with most advanced Patented Technologies Active Copper Maxx, Biotron and Mineral Guard” was misleading by implication as the grant for the patent is still under process.

2.    MastercardIndia: The television advertisement’s claim with celebrity MS Dhoni, “Bharat Ka Card”, implies leadership claim which was not substantiated, and is misleading by ambiguity. It was observed that while the advertiser has taken a stance that their Mastercard is a payment gateway, the visual in the TVC shows a physical card. Also it was observed that there was no evidence showing the Celebrity, Mr. M.S. Dhoni had done due diligence prior to the endorsement. There was a violation of Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising.

3.    Times Network Ltd (ET Now): The channel in their promos circulated the BARC data claim to be the No.1 channel starting 14th Feb 2019 during Week 6,7,8,9 & 10. The BARC advisory dated 31st January 2019 which was updated on 14th February 2019, was applicable during the period of the advertisement complained against. In the context of impermissible use of BARC data, the CCC concluded that the TV Promos contravened Chapter I.3 of the ASCI Code.

4.    Paisabazaar Marketing and Consulting Private Limited:The advertisement’s claim, “2 minute mein loan approval” (“Loan Approval* in 2 minutes”) regardless of the disclaimer, “…..*Provisional Loan Approval in 2 minutes”, is misleading as the key operative word “provisional” is missing in the voice over itself. The claim, “Loan Approval in 2 Minutes “with the protagonist categorically stating “fatafat paisa aapke account mein”, implies that the money would be available in the person’s account as quick as in two minutes, whereas the actual fact is that the transfer of money could take upto ten days. Any normal Customer is bound to believe that the Loan will be approved in two minutes and amount will be credited almost immediately. The advertisement is misleading by ambiguity and implication.  

5.    IPSIT Group (IPSIT Projects): The hoarding advertisement’s claiming, “Tax Free Homes* – *Free Stamp Duty Registration & GST” at Palghar was misleading. The free stamp duty registration and GST was available to customers who purchase the flat at the given rate and not at a negotiated rate. The terms and conditions for the offer were not readily available for the customer or on the advertiser’s website. 

6.    Brandzstorm India Marketing Pvt. Ltd.  (Luxxuberance): The advertisement’s claim, “India’s first multi brand handbag and accessories store”  was not substantiated with any verifiable comparative data nationwide, of the advertiser’s store and other similar stores to prove that they are the first store in India that sells multi brand handbags and accessories. The claim is misleading by exaggeration.

7.    Voltas Ltd. (Voltas Beko Refrigerator): The advertisement’s claim, “…tees din taksabziyaan fresh rahengi”, (Vegetables will remain Fresh up to 30 days) was not substantiated, and is misleading by ambiguity, implication, and exaggeration. The disclaimer in the advertisement talks of `specific vegetables’ remaining fresh which is contradictory to the voiceover and main message conveyed of keeping vegetables’ fresh, implying that all vegetables will remain fresh. Additionally the disclaimers in the TVC were not in the same language as the audio of the TVC (Hindi) hence contravened ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers. 

8.    RSPL Limited (*) (XpertDishwash Bar): TheYouTube and website advertisement claim, “Big Saver Pack” was misleading. The older “four bar” pack (sold as a 3+1 free) weighs the same as the new “3 bar” pack.Hence, there is no saving delivered by the new pack, and this claim misleadingby distortion of facts, as there is no saving delivered by the new pack. 
 

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