In March 2017, The Advertising Standards Council of India’s (ASCI) Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 214 out of 280 advertisements. Out of the 214 advertisements against which complaints were upheld, 175 belonged to the Healthcare category, 21 to the Education category, followed by 7 in the Food & Beverages category and 11 advertisements from other categories.
The CCC found the following claims of 175 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 Drug & Magic Remedies Act and Chapter 1.1 and III.4 of the ASCI Code. The complaints against the following advertisements were upheld:
· Kolors Health Care India Pvt. Ltd. (Kolors Slimming & Beauty): The advertisement’s claim, “Five kilograms weight loss guarantee and five inch figure correction”, was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by gross exaggeration. The efficacy being depicted via images of before and after the treatment is misleading by gross exaggeration.
· Ayurwin Pharmaceutical Pvt. Ltd. (Nutrigain plus Powder & Capsules): The advertisement’s claims, “The only weight gain Product Powered by Ayurscience” and “Approved by Ayush Dept.” were not substantiated with supporting evidence, and are misleading by gross exaggeration.
The CCC found following claims in the advertisements by 21 different advertisers were not substantiated and, thus, violated ASCI Guidelines for Advertising of Educational Institutions. The complaints against these advertisements were upheld.
· Patel Group of Institutions: The advertisement’s claim, “Awarded for Best infrastructure, Best Faculty, Best Results & Best Placements”, was not substantiated with details of the awards, parameters used for assessment and other similar institutes that it was compared against, references of the award received such as the year, source and category. Also, the claim is misleading by exaggeration.
· Frankfinn Aviation Services Pvt. Ltd. (Frankfinn Institute of Air Hostess Training): The advertisement’s claim, “The World's No.1”, was not substantiated with authentic supporting proof, and is misleading by exaggeration. Also the claim, “World's No.1 air hostess training institute”, was not substantiated with any verifiable comparative data versus other similar institutes in the same category or any third party validation or research, and is misleading by exaggeration. Furthermore, the claims, “Gold Award Winner - 2016 for 'Best Higher Vocational Institute for Skill Development' - Awarded 'Best Air Hostess Training Institute Award' every year from 2011 to 2016” and “Limca Book of Records certified Frankfinn for best cabin crew placements year after year”, were not substantiated with copy of the award certificates, details, references of the awards received such as the year, source and category. Also, the claims are misleading by omission of disclaimers to qualify these claims.
FOOD & BEVERAGES:
· A V Thomas & Co. Ltd. (AVT Premium Tea and AVT Premium Select Tea): The advertisement’s claim, “Strongest Tea consistently” is a superlative claim, which was not substantiated with supporting comparative data versus other tea brands. Also, the claim is misleading by exaggeration and implication that other tea brands are inferior to the advertised product.
· Apurva Organics Ltd. (Chamong Green Tea): The advertisement’s claims, “100% Organic” and “IMO certified” were not substantiated and are misleading by exaggeration.
· Mahesh Edible Oil Industries Ltd. (Saloni Mustard Oil): The advertisement’s claims, “Vitamin A - Helps to improve eyesight”, “Vitamin D - Helps in making bone stronger” and “Vitamin E - Helps to strengthen immunity”, were not substantiated with quantitative evidence of the presence of Vitamins A, D and E in the product.
· Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Free Data for 12 months): The advertisement’s claim, “Free data for 12 months, worth Rs. 9000. Switch to Airtel 4G”, is misleading by ambiguity. It was noted that the price currently being used by Airtel for 3 GB data is Rs. 450. The prevalent price of ‘free data’ under an actual offer for 12 months is much lower than the price point of Rs. 9000. The said unlimited data packs are not entirely free but they are subject to specific tariff packs for which the customer is required to pay. Furthermore, the data pack is valid for only 28 days and the 12 re-charges of 28 days each do not add up to 12 months.
· Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Free Unlimited local + STD calls): In view of the cap of 1200 minutes/week as per advertiser’s fair usage policy, the claim, “Free Unlimited Local + STD calls” is misleading and contravened Chapter I.4 of 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.”)