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ASCI UPHELD COMPLAINTS AGAINST 132 ADVERTISEMENTS OUT OF 231.

67 OTHER ADVERTISEMENTS PROMPTLY WITHDRAWN, 32 WERE NOT OBJECTIONABLE.

During the month of May 2019, ASCI investigated complaints against 231 advertisements, of which 67 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers as soon as they received the ASCI communication. ASCI’s independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 132 advertisements, out of 164 advertisements evaluated by them. Of these 132 advertisements, 69 belonged to the education sector, 41 belonged to the healthcare sector, Four to the food & beverages sector, Two to personal care, and 16 were from the ‘others’ category.


ASCI continues to see advertisements featuring celebrities falling foul of “Guidelines for Celebrities in advertising”. Amongst the various advertisements that were examined, CCC pulled up an advertisement where a renowned cricketer was seen endorsing a mobile gaming app making a superlative claim without conclusive evidence of its market leadership. Another advertisement featured a celebrity endorsing the product as “organic” whereas this claim was not substantiated.

Among other advertisements, a high end phone brand promised consumers of extremely sharp and beautiful photo quality while being ambiguous about requirement of additional hardware and software requirement for achieving the depicted picture quality. Another popular beverage brand insinuated that children could consume their beverage in place of eight glasses of water which is recommended daily intake. It also claimed to have the goodness of fruits and vitamins which was misleading by ambiguity and implication. A renowned paint brand promised to purify indoor air and made an absolute claim of being able to kill germs.

A large number of complaints were pertaining to the education sector wherein the advertisers were making unsubstantiated claims of being No. 1 and this was also true for a very well-known private university. The CCC also came across a significant number of advertisement of hospitals and clinics which were misleading and exploited consumers lack of knowledge.

Mr D Shivakumar, Chairman, ASCI said,

“ASCI is a self-regulatory body that helps advertisers and consumer recognise and implement relevant and honest communication of brand messages. ASCI works with the Department of Consumer affairs and the Ministry of information and Broadcasting in ensuring that consumer awareness of their rights is fulfilled. ASCI is also working with celebrities and influencers to help educate them on what they should watch out for before endorsing brands. The CCPA is a welcome step after 34 years of the last consumer legislation and provides autonomy and authority at a district level.”

DIRECT COMPLAINTS

Food and Beverage

1.       Mondelez India Foods P. Ltd (Tang): The television advertisement claim, “Kehte hain bacchon ko 8 glass paani peena chaihye… Mushkil hain par Tang hain na (Translated as “Children should drink eight glasses of water…Difficult but there is Tang)” was clearly insinuating that 8 glasses of Tang should be consumed. The CCC also expressed concern on the emphasis placed on using the advertiser’s product in place of water. The claim was misleading by implication and in contravention of the ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Foods and Beverages. The tagline at the end of the advertisement states “Goodness of fruits and vitamins.” implying that the benefits offered by the product were much more than fruit taste alone. This was misleading by ambiguity and implication. 

2.       Tata Global Beverages Ltd (Tetley Green Tea): The print advertisement claimed “9/10 USERS PREFER TETLEYGREEN TEA FOR AN ACTIVE LIFE”, the video advertisement uses the word “recommend” which is contrary to the print advertisement. The users (Home Testers Club survey members) were not provided with samples of other brand products to enable them to have a preference; the words “prefer” and “recommend” are misleading by implication. The use of word “Active Life” misleads one to think that use of the product alone would be sufficient to achieve an “Active Life”. Lastly, the quality of the survey conducted was found to be inadequate as there was ample reason to question fair and unbiased communication of information in the advertisement.

Education

1.       Amity University: The print and television advertisements superlative claim  “Ranked India's #1 Not for Profit Pvt. University” was not substantiated with relevant data that there are no other private universities in India that are not-for-profit that are ranked higher than the university. In the television advertisement banner it was mentioned that the #1 ranking was based on an India Today Study, however the claim was not substantiated with details of the awarding body, process as to how the awarding body arrived at the conclusion of them being ranked #1 Not for Profit Pvt. University. More importantly, the selection methodology, criteria used for evaluation, names of other similar universities that were part of the assessment and the outcome was not explained. The CCC also observed that another private university ranked higher as per the QS Global World Rankings of Universities, thus casting a doubt on the advertiser’s claims. The claim is misleading by exaggeration and implication.

2.       Triumphant Institute of Management Education P. Ltd – T.I.M.E:  The website advertisement claim “5 100 Percentilers from T.I.M.E. in CAT 2018” is misleading by ambiguity. The advertisement claimed results for CAT 2018 by using photograph of the complainant who had scored a 100 percentile in the CAT 2013 exam.
Healthcare 

1.       SAAOL Heart Center: The online advertisement’s claim presenting Catheter Angiography (Taar Wali Angiography) in a bad light and promoting CT Coronary Angiography as the best test for the heart was not substantiated by the advertiser with any authentic and credible scientific literature nor clinical evidence in statistically significant number of patient population to prove that CT Coronary Angiography is a better alternative than Catheter Angiography regardless of the patient’s condition. The advertiser’s claim that maximum number of people die during Catheter Angiography was not substantiated. The claims are misleading by exaggeration. The claim projecting cardiologists as people who blackmail their patients into undergoing an angioplasty or bypass surgery after undergoing the Catheter Angiography Test unfairly denigrates the entire community of cardiologists.
Personal Care
1.       Wipro Enterprises P. Ltd (Santoor Aloe Fresh Soap): The print advertisement’s claim (translated from Marathi) “Lemon present in new Santoor Aloe Fresh Soap removes stickiness, due to which you remain fresh and look young” was misleading by implication. It was noted that the soap product does remove stickiness, provides freshness and brightness by its main functional ingredients i.e. surfactant / cleanser soap and the claimed performance holds true for the product as a whole. Attributing these benefits to the two ingredients alone, when such correlation for the levels present in the product are not conclusively established, is misleading.
Others
1.       Apple India Pvt. Ltd. (iPhone XS): The television advertisement showed extremely sharp and beautiful shots of the environment – animals, insects, plants and landscapes. The advertisement ends with the tagline “Don’t mess with Mother. Earth shot on iPhone.” The claim leads a lay consumer to believe that the image quality as depicted in the advertisement would be feasible on the iPhone XS alone, whereas in reality, such result would not be achievable without making additional purchases. The CCC did not agree with the advertiser’s contention that the claim is qualified with the disclaimer in the advertisement as this was in contravention of the ASCI’s Guidelines on disclaimers in advertising. The advertisement is misleading by ambiguity and implication.

2.       Shwas Homes Pvt Ltd (Aqua City- Cochin): The print advertisement’s claim “It’s Big And Ready!”  when seen in conjunction with the listed amenities (Tennis Court, Basket Ball Court, Volley Ball Court, Swimming Pool, River Side Lounge and Mini Shopping Mall ) implied that the amenities were available too. The claim indicating completion of the project and availability of all amenities is misleading by gross exaggeration.

3.       Kapila Krishi Udyog Ltd. (Kapila Pashu Aahar): The print and YouTube advertisement endorsed by Sanjay Dutt claimed that their product is “organic” was not substantiated with a copy of the product label, copy of product approval, product composition details or evidence that the product is organic nor a third party certification and found to be misleading.

SUO MOTU Surveillance by ASCI FOR MISLEADING ADVERTISEMENTS
ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising
1.       Galactus Funware Technology Private Limited-MPL (Mobile Premier League): The television advertisement’s claim “Biggest Gaming App” endorsed by Virat Kohli was not substantiated with any verifiable comparative data or through an audited report or third-party validation. The advertiser did not submit any comparative data of their gaming app versus their close competitors to conclusively prove their market leadership claim. The claim is misleading by exaggeration.

2.       TRZ Mart Pvt Ltd – (TRZ Footwear): The television advertisement featured celebrity Manish Paul. The claim  ‘India’s no 1 kids footwear brand’ was not substantiated with any market share data of the advertiser’s brand and other similar kids footwear brands in India, to prove that it is in the leadership position (No.1) in kids footwear, or through a third party validation. The claim is misleading by exaggeration.
Healthcare

1.       Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare India Pvt Ltd (Itch Guard Cream): The television advertisement’s claim “Heals infection 4 times faster” was not adequately substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity and implication.  The data relied upon for the claim support was dated and 20 years old and was specific to the active ingredient. The CCC noted that terbinafine was introduced in India in the late nineties or early 2000s. The CCC observed that over the last several years, India has witnessed an unprecedented epidemic of severe and extensive dermatophytic infections. In CCC’s opinion, to back a specific quantitative claim of better efficacy, it is important that the claim is based on current published studies of terbinafine and currently used common fungicidal agents (including those that have been introduced in the last 20 years). The Indian climatic conditions and habits and practices of Indian consumers are also required to be factored in.
In the advertisement the ASCI Guidelines on Disclaimers were also violated as the disclaimer was not in the same language as that of the voice over and was misleading by ambiguity and omission with reference to the source of the claim.

Education

1.       Parigyaan Classes: The print advertisement’s claim “Ensure selection by studying in the institute which provided the maximum selections in the last REET recruitment exam” with respect to training and selection for the Rajasthan Eligibility Exam for Teachers (REET) was not substantiated with verifiable supporting data. The claim guaranteeing selection is misleading.
Personal Care

1.       Vcare Herbal Concepts Pvt Ltd (Vcare VIP Hair Colour Shampoo): the television advertisement’s claim “It will stick only on hair and not stain on any other part” was not substantiated.  The advertiser has made only assertions that the shampoo hair colour does not stain skin and gets applied only on hair; however, the advertiser did not submit any product composition details nor any technical test report to substantiate the claims nor safety of the product.

Food and Beverage:

1.         S.B. Food Products (Priya Khadak Rotti):  It was observed that the advertisement shows an FSSAI logo in a non-standard format, implying that it is an endorsement from FSSAI. The improper use of FSSAI logo in the print advertisement is in contravention of the FSSAI advisory.
Others

1.       Nippon Paint (India) Private Limited (Nippon Odour less Air Care): The television advertisement (in Tamil) and its corresponding YouTube advertisement in Hindi claiming “Its active carbon technology kills germs and purifies the air” was not substantiated with any details regarding the product composition, technology, scientific rationale or technical test reports to substantiate the claimed benefits. The advertisement made an absolute claims of killing germs, bacteria and removing formaldehyde and purifying the air which ensures clean air indoors. The claim is misleading by ambiguity and exaggeration. 

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