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ASCI joins WhatsApp to record consumer complaints against ads

MUMBAI: The Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) has launched a WhatsApp service that will allow consumers to send their complaints against objectionable advertisements on chat messenger.

The number +91 77-100-12345 went live on 10 March with the ASCI board of governors lodging suo moto complaints using this number. The WhatsApp number launch comes close on the heels of the mobile app last year.

ASCI chairman Benoy Roychowdhury said, “We are happy to launch the WhatsApp number close to the World Consumer Rights Day (15 March). The ASCI is truly empowering consumers by making it more accessible. Today almost every person with a smartphone is using messaging services such as WhatsApp. Technology makes it possible for them to flag false, misleading or offensive ads instantaneously and anytime anywhere while on the go, be it while reading newspapers at home, on their way to office, listening to radio or watching TV in the evening.”

WhatsApp will serve as only the first touch point for consumers to reach the ASCI with their main objections and images of the objectionable advertisement. Consumers can send pictures of print ads, hoardings, packaging or screenshots of websites, links of YouTube videos, etc. ASCI team would be scrutinising these complaints and take it further if found valid, as well as having complete details such as name and email ID.

The complainant would receive status updates on the complaint by SMS and/or email. The WhatsApp number is not meant for commercial purpose. The complaint processing is free for consumers, in line with the ASCI’s mission of promoting self-regulation of advertising content and protecting consumers’ interests.

The launch will be followed by awareness campaigns through print advertisement and radio spots with tagline of ‘Spot Bad Ad? Snap and WhatsApp +91 77100 12345’.