ASCI calls Kissan Ketchup, Oxylife ads misleading

It upheld complaints against 208 advertisers in January 2020

MUMBAI: The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has called out popular brands like Kissan Ketchup (HUL), Bajaj Pulsar (Bajaj Auto Ltd) and Oxylife (Dabur) for misleading advertising.

ASCI investigated complaints against 342 advertisements in January this year, of which 110 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers on receipt of the communication from the council. The remaining 232 advertisements were evaluated by the independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI that upheld complaints against 208 advertisers, out of which 83 belonged to the education sector, 64 belonged to the healthcare sector, eight to personal care, seven to real estate sector, five to the food & beverages sector, and 41 were from the ‘others’ category.

ASCI revealed in a press note that it exercised the “Suspension Pending Investigation” (SPI) option to fast track a complaint against an extremely offensive advertisement of an online content app. The advertisement shown as a user-uploaded content involving the use of expletive and swear words as well as the use of obscene language. The advertiser was instructed to pull down the objectionable advertisement within 48 hours.

Kissan Ketchup’s claim to "boring roti-sabji ko banaiye yummy kissan roll" was found to be misleading. It was observed that while the CCC agreed with the advertiser’s submission that ketchup, like a condiment, enhances the specific tastes of the dish, thereby making it appealing to the children. However, calling out regular “roti-subji” as boring was considered to be discrediting home-cooked food and also disparaging good food practises. The advertisement also contravened the ASCI guidelines on advertising of food and beverages.

Bajaj Pulsar was called out for portraying dangerous acts and manifesting a disregard for safety as ‘the visuals were likely to encourage minors to emulate such acts which could cause harm or injury.’

“PharmEasy’s television advertisement’s claim “Trusted by 50 Lac + Customers” was not substantiated. The advertiser did not provide any verifiable data or market/consumer survey data to support the claim nor was the claim backed by any audited report or independent third-party validation,” noted ASCI's press statement.

In the cosmetic and personal care category, Dabur was found to fall foul by contravening the ASCI guidelines for advertising of skin lightening or fairness improvement products. These were two separate advertisements of their cosmetic bleach brands. Another FMCG company misled consumers by claiming that its soap was recommended by doctors and is capable of reducing the risk of skin problems by up to 95 per cent.

For the month of January, the CCC saw misleading advertisements of several IVF hospitals and fertility clinics guaranteeing success and claiming to be the best. There were also a number of real estate advertisements making leadership claims which were unsubstantiated.

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