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BW Businessworld

Complaints Rise To 7772 In 2020: ASCI

The largest contributor to the violations in 2020 has been the education sector (2000) followed by healthcare (787)

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ASCI

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) complaints team looked into 7,772 (4683 direct + 3089 suo moto) complaints against advertisements in 2019-20, as compared to 6,226 complaints in 2018-19. Of these 7772 advertisements, the independent consumer complaints council deliberated on complaints pertaining to 3773 advertisements. Most of these pertained to Chapter I violations (3,483)- the advertisements were considered misleading, making false or unsubstantiated claims. 57 advertisements complained against, were ruled to be offensive or indecent. Further, 341 advertisements complained against were encouraging or depicting a dangerous practice and 25 advertisements were unfair in competition.

Sector-wise Split

The self-regulatory industry body revealed the sector-wise breakup of the complaints processed in 2019-20. The largest contributor has been the education sector, followed by healthcare. The most common examples of misleading advertisements in the education sector were advertisements with unsubstantiated claims of providing, “100% job”, “100% placement assistance” etc. Superlative claims of the institute being the “Best”, “No 1 in India / Asia” and reference to various awards achieved was quite common. Several “Deemed to be Universities” also tried to present themselves as “University” by downplaying their “deemed to be” status. 



Total

Upheld

Not Upheld

Informal Resolution

Education

2000

1347

8

644 (Sub Judice + 1)

Healthcare

787

355 (+192 DMR)

15

225

Personal Care

202

89

60

53

Food & Beverage

175

53

63

59

Durables

94

41

21

32

Services

85

50

8

27

Others

430

191

123

116


ASCI’s partnerships to regulate better

In the last quarter, ASCI expanded its sou moto monitoring to include 3000 digital platforms (in addition to 425 television and 82 print), through our partnership with TAM Media Research. ASCI’s suo moto monitoring is done under its NAMS – National Advertising Monitoring Service for identifying potentially misleading advertisements. 

In April 2020, the Ministry of AYUSH, sought ASCI’s help in highlighting pandemic related misleading claims to them, this exercise is continued even today. To compliment this effort, ASCI also issued the COVID -19 Advertising Advisory to advertisers in order to safeguard consumers from the plethora of misleading pandemic- related claims.

It has also introduced guidelines for “Online Gaming for Real Money Winnings”, to ensure that such advertising makes users aware about financial and other risks that are associated with playing online games with real money winnings. The government, via the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, The Department of Consumer Affairs as well as Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, have given these ASCI guidelines their full support and backing to comprehensively address growing concerns about the potential misleading and harmful advertisements in the sector. 

“2020 changed consumer behaviour and, consequently, the advertising industry. The pandemic has been many things but also a transition period where digital consumption increased manifold. Another strong trend was the need for immediate fulfilment of consumer demands and their decreasing tolerance of time taken to do so. We, at ASCI, noticed the early signs of these in 2020 and have been constantly thinking of ways to make our processes faster and more efficient without compromising the integrity of our decisions. The new normal of nowness is challenging and exciting for us too and we are ready to move ahead with the evolving times,” said the ASCI Secretary-General, Manisha Kapoor.


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