The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has released its report for the period February 2010 on the ads that were either withdrawn or modified. A total of six ads had been brought under its scanner, of which it had prohibited the airing of one commercial and instructed modifications in five others with immediate effect. These ads include brands like Dabur Chyawan Junior, Maruti SX4, Shanti Badam Amla Hair Oil, Tata AIG Insurance, IMS CAT Approach Program and Mahindra Flyte Power Scooter.
ASCI had observed that the Dabur Chyawan Junior advertisement implied a perceived inadequacy of a physical attribute, in this case ‘the height of the person’, which could be found objectionable to minors and to a large number of youth in India. The ad claimed that if children did not drink the Dabur health drink, they would remain short in height (“Bachche tingu rahenge”). Subsequently, the Consumer Complaints Councils (CCC) instructed the ad to be modified, which was promptly done.
In the case of Maruti SX4 TVC, the CCC ruled that the TVC violated safe driving practices by showing reckless driving of a car across traffic lanes. According to the CCC ruling, the TVC depicted potentially harmful practice for the driver, passengers and general public. Similar violation of traffic rules was observed in the case of the Mahindra Flyte Power Scooter ad. The ad depicts a picture of “three persons on the scooter without wearing helmets”. Like Maruti SX4, the CCC observed that the ad depicted potentially harmful driving practice and was instructed to be modified. With ASCI’s prohibition in place, the advertiser assured that the said ad would not be released in future.
In the case of the Shanti Badam Hair Oil ad from Marico Ltd, CCC concluded that whilst the combing experiments did make a case for reducing falling or damaged hair, the data on oil penetration and ‘confocal’ microscopy did not quantify for a “double benefit”, as the ad claims. Similarly, ASCI observed that the use of the word ‘coolie’ in the Tata AIG Life Insurance ad could cause grave and widespread offence, and hence, needed to be modified. As for IMS’ CAT Approach Program, the CCC found their claims to be misleading, as there was no “100th percentile”. The ad claimed that its programme could “take you to the 100 percentile”. The advertiser has agreed to modify the ad.
ASCI Secretary-General Alan Collaco pointed out, “There is a marked increase in the number of consumer complaints since ASCI’s campaign appealing to citizens to report misleading, dishonest and indecent ads. Our recently launched toll free number – 1800 22 2724 – receives as many as 300 complaints per month. It’s an encouraging indicator that consumers are becoming more aware of their rights and duties. On the other hand, there is 98 per cent compliance from advertisers on ASCI’s decisions.”
ASCI did not uphold consumer complaints against ads such as Garnier Fructis shampoo, Coca-Cola, Fast Track, Lodha Aqua, Digital Radio, Axe Boost and JK White Cement. In all these cases, the complaints were either found to be baseless, substantiated or within the limits of decency. In the case of JK Cement, the CCC observed that whilst the bikini-clad woman coming out of the ocean was irrelevant to the product, it was not found to be indecent.