The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the body that controls the content of advertisements, has recently introduced additions to the code on advertising of automotive vehicles and foods & beverages. The addendums are directed at depicting safe, secure and healthy practices in advertisements targeted at masses.
The recent code on automotive vehicles’ advertising is directed at promoting safe practices such as wearing of helmets, fastening of seatbelts and not using mobile phones while driving. The recently introduced guidelines prohibit portraying of traffic rules violation in any manner, showing reckless speed or manoeuvrability that could harm the driver, passengers or general public. Lastly, the code discourages showing stunts or actions without a readable cautionary message on the potential dangers of the stunt.
On the introduction of this new code, Alan Colaco, Secretary General of ASCI, said, “The additions to the ASCI advertising code is in line with the swift changes happening in the Indian advertising and marketing world. ASCI realises that cutthroat competition among products and the need for uniqueness can sometimes lead to senseless exaggeration and depiction of unsafe practices. The recent set of guidelines for automotive vehicles and food & beverage seeks to make advertising content safer and healthier for the general public.”
The code addendum on the advertising of foods and beverages prohibits advertisements from depicting personal changes in intelligence, physical ability or exceptional recognition unless scientifically substantiated. The code further states that nutritional and health benefit claims in food & beverage advertisements are required to be substantiated scientifically, including food products nutritionally designed as a meal replacement.
The code also clearly specifies that messages in advertising to children must accurately portray the products in a way that is in keeping with children’s ability to understand. The code stresses on the importance of parental care and guidance in making the right choice for their children.
Further on, the code prohibits advertisements and promotions from portraying over-consumption in any way. It also prohibits visual presentation of food and beverage to be any different from its actual material characteristics.
ASCI is a self-regulatory voluntary organisation of the advertising industry. The role and functioning of the ASCI and its Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) is in dealing with complaints received from consumers and industry, against advertisements which are considered as false, misleading, indecent, illegal, leading to unsafe practices, or unfair to competition, and consequently in contravention of the ASCI code for self-regulation in advertising.