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ASCI’s initiatives result in fivefold rise in complaints in 2013

MUMBAI: The Advertising Standards Council of India’s (ASCI) initiatives in 2013 to ensure quick and strong action against advertisements violating its code resulted in a fivefold increase in the number of complaints in that year.

In 2013, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) decided on 1,842 complaints out of which 1,477 were upheld. About 40 per cent of these misleading advertisements were from the education sector and 36 per cent from the personal and healthcare category.

Among its initiatives, The National Advertising Monitoring Service (NAMS) helped the self-regulatory body to cast its net wide on the defaulting advertisers, while Online Complaint and Monitoring Service (OCMS) made it convenient and faster for consumers to file grievances against misleading advertisements.

In addition, the ASCI also launched online monitoring of ads to track advertisements in the online space and also introduced Suspension Pending Investigation for taking quick action against those advertisements whose continuation may be against public interest.

In the month of December 2013, the ASCI upheld complaints against 87 out of 108 advertisements, where education led the sectors with the highest number of complaints, followed by personal and health care.

In the education sector, complaints against various educational institutes were upheld owing to their unsubstantiated claims that they ‘provide 100 per cent placement/and/or they claim to be the number one in their respective fields’.

The health and personal care category saw 65 complaints against ads that violated the ASCI code. Some healthcare products and services ads also contravened provisions of the Drug & Magic Remedies Act. Some of these advertisers include Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, Hindustan Research Health Product, Smile Dental Zone, Uranyx Healthcare, Piramal Enterprises Ltd, Dr Batra’s Positive Health Clinic, Emami Limited, Clarins and more.

An advertisement of Bajaj Electricals Ltd for Bajaj CFL bulbs was upheld in the consumer durables category for denigrating women based on the colour of the skin of the girl.

The CCC upheld eight advertisements in the food and beverages category for contravening the ASCI code. Some of these advertisers included Star Vision Aloe Star Juice, Cadbury India Ltd and Haldiram Foods International Ltd.

The ASCI also upheld complaints against other advertisers like ICICI Bank Ltd for its ICICI Pockets ad which contravened Chapter III.3 of the ASCI code, Microtek International Pvt Ltd for Microtek Inverter UPS, JAM venture Publishing Pvt Ltd for Royal National Hotel London, Ceat Ltd which contravened Chapter III.3 of the ASCI code and the Guidelines on Advertisements for Automotive Vehicles.