During the quarter April-June 2011, the Consumer Complaints Council of ASCI upheld complaints made against 27 advertisements, including from companies like Dish TV, STAR India, Business World, HUL, P&G, Reckitt Benckiser and Paras Pharma, among others.
Media Companies’ False Claims...
‘High Definition’ claims also came under the CCC scanner during the quarter. Dish TV’s claim to offer ‘30 True HD channels’ was rejected by the CCC citing that the use of the word ‘True’ to denote “upscaled standard definition” channels as HD was misleading. Their claim of providing maximum number of HD channels was also challenged, stating that Dish TV can provide only a limited number of HD channels and the other ‘claimed’ HD channels were SD channels upscaled to HD at the DTH end. This claim would lead to consumers expecting an HD experience being misled. Similarly, complaints against certain claims made by STAR India on the ‘Asli HD’ campaign were upheld by the CCC, stating that the claims of Asli HD were framed to exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge of HD technology.
Businessworld magazine claimed to be the No. 1 business magazine in India, which was most read and most sold. However, the IRS for the 3rd Quarter of 2010 showed the magazine in third place. Since the claim was not supported by any independent research, the complaint against the advertisement was upheld.
Corporate Giants Corrected
Advertisement claims by FMCG majors HUL, P&G, Reckitt Benckiser and Paras Pharma, among others, came under CCC’s scanner. FMCG major Hindustan Unilever was faced with a complaint regarding their advertisement on a leaflet of ‘Pureit Water Purifier’, which contains numerous disparaging and false statements about the competitor product – Tata Swach. The distribution of anti-Tata Swach danglers on Tata Swach packages by the advertiser was seen as undermining the Tata brand, besides being an unfair and unethical trade practice. Following the CCC’s intervention and upholding the complaints, HUL withdrew the leaflet from the market. Another HUL advertisement that came under the scanner was the Axe Effect campaign. This complaint was upheld on the grounds that the visual used was overtly sexual and vulgar and portrayed women in an indecent manner. The complaint against Paras Pharmaceutical’s sexually explicit advertisement of Set Wet Deodorant was upheld on the grounds that it was portraying women as sexual tools.
Some complaints on certain claims made by P&G’s Pantene Pro-V Hair Fall Control were upheld by the CCC on the grounds that the depiction of a stylised golden circular drop misleads consumers into believing that 150 crore and not 15 crore women found Pantene to be effective. Moreover, P&G’s claim that 80 per cent of Indian women say that the new Pantene is better than anything else they have tried before, based on a study of just 360 women, was misleading. Following the CCC’s decision, P&G removed the stylised golden circular drop in the advertisement. Similarly, complaints received against Reckitt Benckiser’s advertisement for Dettol Skincare Soap was upheld on the ground that it was misleading consumers by wrongly linking the skin condition to germs, wherein reality there is no correlation between the two.
The complaint against Sundrop Heart’s advertisement was upheld on the ground that its statement “jeene ka daar nahi, khaaneka oil badaliye” can lead consumers to believe they can neglect the importance of healthy lifestyle by merely changing the cooking oil they use.
Complaints against an advertisement of International Tractors Ltd for their brand Sonalika Tractors were upheld as they used the creative property ‘Mileage ka Master’ of Mahindra Tractors, thus taking unfair advantage of the goodwill attached to the Mahindra products.
The complaints against GCMMF’s advertisement, claiming that Amul butter tops the food triangle, was upheld in the absence of an appropriate disclaimer, ‘to be used in moderation’, which could mislead consumers to believe that Amul Butter is the best food to have, thus leading to over-consumption of butter.
The complaint against JyothyLabs’s Exo Dish Shine Bar advertisement claiming that it can kill disease-causing germs in just 20 seconds was upheld as the technical data submitted did not support the claim that it “starts” killing germs in 20 seconds. The advertiser made appropriate modifications to the advertisement post the CCC’s decision.
Complaints against Micromax Mobile advertisement showing a student experimenting in a chemical laboratory which ends in a blast were upheld as it sends the wrong message to students and that it may encourage many students to emulate an act that could cause injury or harm.
Healthcare and Educational Sector also Checked
A few healthcare advertisements also came under the CCC’s scanner because of the claims made by the advertisers. A complaint was received against The Institute of Indian Therapies for their advertisement of ‘AyuCare Lavana Tailam’, which claims that the external application of oil helps reduce the size of one’s stomach and lose all fat. The CCC considered the report of the clinical trial submitted by the advertiser and concluded that the advertisement was misleading. In another case, AMA Herbal Labs’ advertisement mentions that competitors use PPD (Paraphenyenediamine), which can be harmful to hair. The CCC concluded that the specific mention of PPD as a harmful chemical was misleading and unfairly denigrates other products.
In the educational sector, a complaint against IMS Learning Resources’ advertisement claiming “8 out of 10 toppers in CBS” and other similar claims was upheld since the claims could not be substantiated with evidence duly validated by an independent agency. Similarly, complaint against Roots Education’s advertisement claiming No. 1 CAT coaching in Delhi and other claims was upheld due to lack of evidence to back the claim. The complaint against Career Launcher Ltd advertisement claiming 303 Calls in DU (BBS/ BFIA) without mentioning whether they were final admission calls or just interview calls was also upheld by the CCC. The complaint against Sri Balaji Society’s advertisement claiming 829 students being placed from the 209-11 batch without mentioning the total number of students was upheld on the ground that the claim contravened Section 4c of ASCI’s guidelines for advertising of educational institutions and programmes as the advertisement shows images of colleges which do not seem real.
ITM Institute of Fashion, Design & Technology in their advertisement state that their study programmess are approved by PIFT and MS University, but fail to provide details like full name and location. This contravenes the ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions and Programmes, hence the complaint was upheld. Similarly, ITM Institute of Hotel Management stated that their degree programme was affiliated to Mumbai University, but failed to provide a specific institution or college and its location. Also, their claim of being voted ‘Top Hotel Management College of the country by ‘Competition and Success Review’ was not substantiated. Thus, the complaints against this advertisement were upheld by the CCC.
The complaints against the Amul Body Warmer advertisement were upheld as the CCC concluded that the depiction of Draupadi in a frivolous manner could hurt religious sentiments of a large section of society, thus causing grave and widespread offence.
The complaints against claims made by Shree Maruti Herbal’s D-Diabetes SMART Powder advertisement were upheld as these were not substantiated with clinical trials and technical data.
During the same quarter, the CCC did not uphold complaints against 17advertisements of various advertisers, including MakeMyTrip, Mankind Pharma, P&G Wella Kolestint, Dabur India, McNroe Consumer Products, Royal Hygiene, Tata Chemicals, HUL’s Axe Googly Deo, and The Times of India, among others, as these advertisements did not contravene ASCI’s codes or guidelines.