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Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has upheld complaints against 116 out of 165 advertisements

The advertising watchdog has cracked down on a range of ads run by prominent names and brands such as Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Tata Chemicals and ITC as well as Republic TV of ARG Outlier Media for misleading consumers about their products. The latest report of Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has upheld complaints against 116 out of 165 advertisements across segments such as healthcare, education, personal care, food and beverages and from other categories.

Out of 116 advertisements against which complaints were upheld, 51 belonged to the Healthcare category, 31 to the Education category, 10 in the Personal Care category, followed by 5 in the Food & Beverages category, and 19 advertisements from other categories.

In the media category, the report mentions Republic TV for its advertisement’s claim that “BARC declares India’s new leader”, “Republic No.1 across all segments”, “India’s No.1 channel with 43% of viewership”, were not substantiated and are misleading by exaggeration.

It was observed that as per “BARC India ratings- Principles of Fair and Permissible Usage” the period of comparison for any claim of leadership should cover at least four consecutive weeks of data. However, the advertiser’s disclaimer violates the BARC guidelines as the claims are based on one single week and not four consecutive weeks of data. “The subject matter of comparison is chosen in such a way so as to confer an artificial advantage upon the advertiser so as to suggest that a better bargain is offered than is truly the case. The advertisement thus contravened the ASCI Code,” said the report.

Indian arm of the Anglo-Dutch consumer-goods giant, Hindustan Unilever Limited was found to be at fault regarding its skin care brand ‘Citra’ advertisement which claimed “Pink Pearls from Korea that gives inner fairness and Japanese green tea for pimple clear skin,” was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity and implication that the benefits being provided by the face care product are due to these two natural ingredients. This ambiguous message which promotes fair skin also breeds contempt for dark skin among users and potential customers.

In the case of Tata Chemicals Ltd advertisement it was noted that in the ‘Tata Nx Zero Sugar’ ad the term Zero Sugar, is prominently displayed on the front of pack. However, this declaration is contradictory and misleading by ambiguity and implication when read in conjunction with the claim ‘beneficial sugar for people with diabetes’.

For Kent RO System Ltd. (Kent RO Water Purifier), the website claim, “Only KENT RO Water Purifiers recover 50% pure water and store rejected water in a separate tank, whereas other RO purifiers can recover only 20% of water” was not substantiated. Further the claims made in the print advertisements, headline claim – “100% purity with No Water Wastage”, as well as claim in body copy “Kent is the first RO purifier in the world…that helps you save water with 100% purity”, “Save Water Technology”, were misleading by ambiguity, exaggeration and omission of key information regarding only 50% of the water output being potable and optional purchase of storage tank for Kent Grand+ and Kent Pearl models. Also the TVC claim, “Paani hota hai 100% pure who bhi Bina wastage ke”, was not true as only 50% water is potable and the claim was misleading by ambiguity, implication and omission of key information.

ITC Limited was found to be on the wrong in connection with its Classmate Note Books ad. The ASCI has taken the view that advertisement’s claim, “Classmate notebook par likhoge toh teacher neatness ke 2 extra marks degee”, is misleading, since neatness is not characterised by writing on a white sheet of paper but one can even be neat on an ordinary notebook paper. ASCI further observed that the advertisement is targeted at children and it exploits their vulnerability.

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