The Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI), the apex regulatory body of the advertising industry, has launched a national campaign to uproot the evil of misleading, dishonest and indecent advertisements. Through this movement, ASCI aims to encourage masses and responsible Indian citizens to report any kind of dishonest or misleading advertisements of any advertiser across all categories.
The campaign aims to popularise ASCI’s role as the regulator of advertising in India. Anyone can register a complaint through the telephone number 022-23513982, or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org, or online through ASCI’s website, www.ascionline.org.
ASCI has a rigorous Advertising Code that has withstood the test of time and a Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) that goes into the merits of every complaint. ASCI seeks to take stringent actions against misleading, dishonest and indecent advertisements. It is noteworthy that rulings made by ASCI have the force of the law behind them as now ASCI’s Advertising Code is part of the Cable TV Act’s ad code. Therefore, any TV ad against whom a complaint has been upheld by ASCI has to either modify or withdraw the offending ad.
Thus, advertisements that are held to be unacceptable by ASCI must be pulled off the electronic media. Consumers are also being encouraged to refer to the ASCI Code for regulation that is available on the website both in English and in Hindi.
Dhananjay Keskar, Chairman of the Board of ASCI, stated, “ASCI firmly believes in the power of the common man, especially women, in India. We believe that to effectively regulate advertisements across India, masses will have to come forward and report misleading and indecent advertisements they come across. So much so that they can even verbally report on advertisement. This is a strong call of appeal to viewers, consumers and masses to become active agents in keeping the advertisements clean and honest.”
ASCI’s campaign consists of print and television advertisements, hoardings, banners and posters. ASCI officials have also started giving lectures and presentations at schools and colleges to introduce the campaign and garner support from the country’s youth.
The creatives for the campaign are bold and talk direct and clear with the consumers. Use of red in the background makes the message tone clear. The message is short, simple and straightforward – “If you think an advertisement is misleading, dishonest or indecent, contact ASCI”. The advertisement then goes on to state its postal address, telephone numbers, website and email ID.
ASCI is a self-regulatory voluntary organisation of the advertising industry. The role and functioning of the ASCI and its Consumer Complaints Council is in dealing with complaints received from consumers and industry, against advertisements that 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.
Leading TV channels, newspapers and other media are expected to carry the ads pro bono to show their commitment to the self regulation movement in India.