MIB issues advisory to curb surrogate advertising

Over the years, brands have circumvented the rule to create a massive reach of their products.

NEW DELHI: Surrogate Advertising has been a very old debate in the India’s advertising industry. An alcohol brand can advertise in the garb of music CD or a gutka brand can talk about the great taste of saffron and circumvent the advertising code. The rule thus aims at prohibiting surrogate advertisements while at the same time allowing advertisements of genuine brand extensions subject to specified conditions. 

Rule 7(2)(vih)(A) of the Advertising Code enshrined under Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 prohibits direct or indirect advertisements of cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants. However, advertisements of genuine products sharing a brand name or logo of such products are permissible subject to specified conditions prescribed therein.

Time and again, industry people and government institutions have debated the matter on various industry platforms but not much output has come. Several activists and common citizens have also complained about surrogate ads from various categories running on national television but not much could have been done about it.

Over the years, brands have circumvented the rule to create a massive reach of their products via their brand extensions.

The latest advisory issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcast states that such ads have to be first previewed by Central Board of Film Certification before telecast and deemed to be fit for consumption.

“Second proviso of Rule 7(2)(vhi)(A) provides that such advertisement has to be previewed and certified by Central Board of Film Certification as suitable for unrestricted public exhibition and are in accordance with stipulated conditions,” stated the advisory.

The focus of this advisory was mostly on brands related to the cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants. The advisory clearly stated that “It is accordingly advised that all advertisements of the nature referred to at para 2 above strictly follow the stipulations contained in the Rules and are previewed and certified by Central Board of Film certification (CBFC) before being telecast on Television.”

The decision is expected to create a strong impact on the brands for this industry because many of these players have emerged as the top advertisers of the country. 

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