The Advertisements Standards Council of India’s (ASCI) had recently received complaints against the Neo Sports ads on the India-West Indies cricket series. The complaints suggested that these ads were racist in nature. In fact, the I&B Ministry too served Nimbus a showcause notice on these ads.
ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) has cleared these ads of the ‘racist’ charges. One of the five treatments that were done for these ads have however been found ‘offensive’.
O&M is the agency behind the campaign. Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman, Ogilvy India, informed, “We have received from ASCI the communication of their decision on the complaints. As part of the process of deliberation on the complaints, in our clarification we submitted to ASCI five ads -- ‘Boat’, ‘Chillies’ (each, with an additional comeback for the Sri Lanka series) and ‘Tiger’. The complaint against the first ad has not been upheld. The third ad too has not featured in any complaint. The second ad, ‘Chillies’, was found to have contravened Chapter II of the ASCI. We have been requested that the airing of this ad be suspended temporarily.”
Pandey further stated as per the communication from ASCI, there is no reference to any of the ads contravening Chapter III of the ASCI Code which incorporates the section that refers to racism.
He said, “We have maintained that the entire campaign should be seen in the context of the recently concluded Cricket Series against West Indies and Sri Lanka. The ads were meant to emphasise, using wit and humour, the home advantage that India enjoys. It is unfortunate that after airing for two weeks across 15 channels with more that 5000 spots being broadcast and not a single negative comment, the entirely unrelated Shilpa Shetty Big Brother incident resulted in these complaints. We have always maintained that portraying these ads as racist is ludicrous.”
Pandey confirmed that the client Neo Sports Broadcast had stopped airing these ads, with the completion of the cricket series. O&M has not yet decided if they would be asking for a review of the ASCI decision on the ‘Chillies’ ad, as allowed by the rules.