The Times’ group music store Planet M’s television commercial beamed on Zoom in October showed an auto driver drawing the notes of Beethoven’s symphony on the wall as he was urinating.
One may have thought of the ad as a piece of creativity, but the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) objected to the ad on the grounds that it is highly objectionable to show a man write the notations of a great composer with his urine. Subsequently the ad was withdrawn.
This is one of the 28 ads against whom the complaints have been registered for October to December 2004. High on the list are ads that are likely to have adverse effects on children.
Five ads have been singled out for harmful effects on children. While the Pepsi ad that showed a small boy serving drinks to Indian cricketers was held for glorifying child labour, Metlife India Insurance and Dabur India’s Lal Dant Manjan have been objected for their portrayal of acts which when imitated by children could prove dangerous.
The former’s ad shows people falling off their buildings while enjoying themselves, Dabur’s ad shows a cricket personality opening a bottled drink cap with his teeth.
According to ASCI, even innuendoes can have harmful influence on children.
The Parrys Coffy Bite ad that shows a small boy commenting on the hips of a girl or the Trigger jeans print advertisement that shows young girls apparently dressed in school uniforms in visuals depicting them in sensual actions can have adverse effects on children’s minds.
The Parry’s ad has been modified and the Trigger Jeans ad has been withdrawn.
However, children ads are not alone that have been under the ASCI glare. The usual suspects of beauty and skin care products have also come under the scanner.
Claims such as “Flawless Fairness in just 4 weeks” and “recommended by most hospitals around the world” have been disputed and the respective advertisers have assured modification their ads.
These are claims that could not be substantiated. Telecom companies too made this kind of claims. Hutch Orange’s hoarding in Mumbai that depicts “ local calls to any mobile at 99 paise per minute” and MTNL’s ad claiming “ On a 100 minute STD call, you can save up to Rs 59 with PSU basic players” have been disputed on grounds of misinformation.
The ASCI said that from the list of objectionable ads received, at least 79 per cent of the ads were withdrawn or modified.
ASCI as a platform makes self regulation in advertising available to all practitioners in advertising on complaints received by individuals, independent consumer forums and bodies.
The forum believes that while creative advertising is welcomed, it should not be at the cost of consumers and competitors.