In April 2017, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 130 out of 199 advertisements. Out of 130 advertisements against which complaints were upheld, 73 belonged to the Healthcare category, 30 to the Education category, followed by 13 in the Food & Beverages category, 4 in Telecommunication sector, 3 in the Personal Care category and 7 advertisements from other categories.
The CCC found the following claims of 73 advertisements in healthcare products or services to be either misleading or false or not adequately/scientifically substantiated and hence violating ASCI’s Code. Some of the healthcare products or services advertisements also contravened provisions of the Drugs & Magic Remedies Act and Chapter 1.1 and III.4 of the ASCI Code. Complaints against the following advertisements were upheld:
· Perfect Point: The advertisement’s claims, “Fat Freezing to Permanent Reduction of Fat Cells - No Side Effects” and “Cavitation Ultra Sound - Fat Eliminator”, were not substantiated. The claim, “Perfect Point - Introducing First time in Udaipur Cryolipolysis”, was not substantiated with supporting proof. Also, the claims are misleading by exaggeration.
· Vibes Healthcare Ltd. (Vibes Centre): The advertisement’s claim, “Treatment for Hair Re-Growth - Stem Cell Technology”, was not substantiated with supporting clinical evidence, and with treatment efficacy data. Also, the claim is misleading.
· Vardan Speech & Hear Diag Cent: The advertisement’s claim, “Rajdhani's No.1 Hearing Centre”, was not substantiated with any verifiable comparative data versus other similar clinics in the same category or any third party validation or research to prove this claim. Also, the claim is misleading by exaggeration.
The CCC found following claims in the advertisements by 30 different advertisers were not substantiated and, thus, violated ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions. Hence complaints against these advertisements were upheld:
· Manya Education Private Limited (GMAT Coaching): The advertisement’s claims, “India's No.1 GMAT coaching”, “India's largest GMAT coaching company”, Website Ad claims, “India's largest GMAT preparation that provides you a score improvement guarantee”, “Apart from GMAC, We are the only company that gives students true computer adaptive tests”, “The only company in India to have the most stringent teacher selection process that is globally recognized, “We are the only company that provides unlimited extra help* to all students and a Unique Satisfaction guarantee”, were not substantiated. Also the claim, “700+ score in GMAT assured with TPR”, was not substantiated with supporting evidence of students who obtained 700+ score in GMAT. Also, the claims are misleading by exaggeration.
· Jamboree Education Pvt. Ltd.: The advertisement’s claims, “India's No.1 coaching institute for GMAT, GRE, SAT and Admission Counselling”, “Highest scores since 1993”, “Best results since 1995”, “GMAT: highest number of 700+ scores on GMAT in India”, “GRE: highest number of 325+ scores on GRE in India”, “SAT: highest number of 1900+ scores on GRE in India”, “The most experienced trainers in the industry”, “Most Exhaustive Collection of Questions and Mock Tests”, “The ONLY Curriculum and Teaching Methodology Customized for Indian Test-takers”, and “Satisfaction 100% Guaranteed”, were not substantiated with verifiable claim support data. Also, the claims are misleading by exaggeration and implication.
· Vini Cosmetics Pvt. Ltd. (Fogg Roll on Deodorant): The advertisement’s claims, “Triple protection against sweat, bacteria and odour” and “eliminate 96% bacteria", were inadequately substantiated with evidence of product efficacy, and are misleading by exaggeration.
· Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. (Cinthol): It was noted that “Buy 3 Get 1 Free**”, is prominently displayed on the front of pack. However, this declaration is misleading by ambiguity and omission as the fourth pack is not of the same size. While the said claim was qualified by a disclaimer to declare the details of the free offer - “Buy 3 units of 125g soaps and get 1 unit of 75g free”, the placement position of the disclaimer was not on the same panel of the packaging as the claim made. It was concluded that the packaging claim, “Buy 3 Get 1 Free”, contravened Chapter I.4 of the ASCI Code and Clause 4 (III) of ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers (“Placement position of disclaimers of a claim on packaging should be in prominent and visible space and could be ideally on the same panel of the packaging as the claim made.”)
Hindustan Unilever Limited (PepsodentGermi Check): The advertisement showing frequent consumption of sugary food by children (laddoos, ice cream, chocolates) and a voiceover stating, “jahanlagataar 12 mahiney sweet eating ho, wahanPepsodentGermicheckkilagataar 12 ghantey cavity wale germs per dishoomdishoomzaroorihai”, the pack visual claim in the advertisement “12 hour protection”, was inadequately substantiated. The advertisement is misleading by implication and omission of other measures required to be taken for protection from caries after eating sugary food.
FOOD & BEVERAGES:
AdaniWilmar Limited (Raag Gold Refined Palmolein Oil): For the advertisement’s claims “ZyadaSeyath” and “Zyada Fry”, the data submitted by the advertiser recommends use of Palmolienas a MUFA "To Help Inhibit Metabolic Syndrome,.......". The data also mentions that consuming repeatedly heated oils causes post prandial inflammation which is a rider to the earlier statement of usefulness of Palmolein Acid. Nowhere is there any indication that one should consume more (zyada) Pamoleinfor health which the advertisement mentions. Also there is no disclaimer that the repeated heating should be avoided because it is highly undesirable because of the harm it causes. The vivid picturisation of deep fried food in the advertisement is also likely to mislead the consumers in the absence of the above disclaimer. Thus, the advertisement’s claims, “ZyadaSeyath” and “Zyada Fry” are misleading by exaggeration, implication and omission.
Doctor Rice: The advertisement’s claims, “Sugar Free Rice”, “Doctor Rice”, “Diabetic Rice” and “Low GI Rice”, were not substantiated, with supporting clinical data, and are misleading by exaggeration. Also, the claim, “1st Time in India”, was not substantiated with verifiable comparative data versus other similar products in the same category. Also, the claim is misleading by exaggeration.
Hatsun Agro Product Ltd. (Arokya Curd): The advertisement’s claim, “Keeps fresh till the last drop”, was false and misleading.
Reliance Communications (Fastest 4G network): The advertisement’s claim, “Fastest 4G Network”, was not substantiated and is misleading by exaggeration.
Maxis Communication (Aircel): In view of the capping for other networks of daily 200 minutes, weekly 1000 minutes, the advertisement’s claim for Aircel stating, “249; unlimited local calls” is misleading. The advertisement contravened the ASCI Code as well as Clause 1 of ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers (“A disclaimer can expand or clarify a claim, make qualifications, or resolve ambiguities, to explain the claim in further details, but should not contradict the material claim made or contradict the main message conveyed by the advertiser or change the dictionary meaning of the words used in the claim as received or perceived by a consumer.”)
Vodafone India Ltd.:In view of the limit of 300 minutes/day as mentioned in the advertisement, the claim, “Rs.328 + Unlimited Local/STD Calls for 28 days”, is misleading. The advertisement contravened the ASCI Code as well as Clause 1 of ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers (“A disclaimer can expand or clarify a claim, make qualifications, or resolve ambiguities, to explain the claim in further details, but should not contradict the material claim made or contradict the main message conveyed by the advertiser or change the dictionary meaning of the words used in the claim as received or perceived by a consumer.”)
Amazon India (Woodland Wallet for Men): It was viewed that the disclaimer, “Terms & Conditions apply” is not relevant and in fact is contradictory to the claim of “100% Original Products”. While Amazon asserts that they have a robust system in place to prevent unscrupulous seller from operating through their platform, in this instance Amazon was not able to ensure that the product is genuine. Based on the evidence provided by the complainant, it was concluded that the claim, “100% Original Products” is not substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity. The YouTube advertisement contravened the ASCI Code as well as Clause 2 of ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers (“A disclaimer should not attempt to hide material information with respect to the claim, the omission/absence of which is likely to make the advertisement deceptive or conceal its commercial intent”)
Mobitech Creations Pvt. Ltd. (OnePlus 3T – Best Smartphone Contest): It was noted that the advertisement begins with a large display/logo of “Best Smartphone Contest”, even though the question is specifically based on consumer ratings i.e. “Which is the best rated smartphone in India?” with a disclaimer, that the question is based on current model smartphone ratings on Amazon.in. This is likely to create confusion in viewers’ minds that the ratings on smartphone on Amazon.in are equivalent to ratings of the Best Smartphone across India. The number of those rating OnePlus 3T on Amazon may not be an indication of special preference of OnePlus 3T; but merely that of an exclusive relationship that the brand historically had with Amazon. Other brands are retailed through multiple channels; and only those customers who have purchased from Amazon are invited to rate the brand purchased on their website. No verification or validation of customer responses on Amazon website has been done to ensure that those offering their ratings for display on their website are genuine, independent buyers. Claims used in advertising need to be clearly shown as being impartially collected, independent of the sponsor. No such proof has been offered. It was also observed that in fact, Nielsen has specifically mentioned in their disclaimer that they “don’t hold any claim related to the methodology, accuracy, respondent profile, representativeness, etc. of the customer ratings”. Two other Apple brands (iPhone 5c and iPhone 6s) also have the 4.4 customer rating that has been obtained by OnePlus 3T on Amazon. Since the commercial begins with a prominent logo of the “Best Smartphone Contest” and then has 100% of the audience going for OnePlus 3T, the ‘shaming’ of every other smartphone is implicit. Thus it was concluded that the claim, “One Plus 3T is the best rated smartphone in India”, is misleading by ambiguity and implication.
Pisces eServicesPvt. Ltd. (Foodpanda): The advertisement’s claim, “Upto 50% off”, is not substantiated with supporting evidence of the advertised product being available for sale at discounted price and evidence of genuine customers who have availed of this offer on KFC and Pizza Hut with 50% off, and is misleading.