As viewers, it’s not easy deciding what content is deemed fit for watching and what is not. It is not even right on our part to decide whether what is being aired is right or wrong; at the most, we can only criticise. Similar is the case with brands that sometimes get caught in the wrong when trying to present a communication thought that may seem to be pretty lucid in approach. In such instances, one looks up to the regulator to play savior and spell out measures to do what is just and sensible. When it comes to television and their tryst with brands, the task is lent to ASCI to prevent brands from broadcasting ads that are not pleasing or are misleading.
The truth that confronts ASCI, especially the hardships, and how the committee members go about doing their inane tasks was made known through a session on ‘Meet the ASCI Consumer Complaints Council’ session at the day-long seminar themed Marketing Responsibly by ASCI.
Paritosh Joshi, CEO of Star CJ, and ASCI member began by presenting examples of ads that were either withdrawn or asked to modify. Ayush Poshak Shampoo, PlanetM, Pepsi and several other ads were some examples that bore the brunt of timely ASCI intervention. In fact Paritosh Joshi took the liberty of addressing the gathering on the hardships faced by ASCI, including working on a minimal fee and not being given enough powers to nail the perpetrators. “The intra-industry fighting is one area that is getting out of hand. Between the warring parties, who are often mighty in stature and approach the higher courts when not satisfied, it is we who become the victims. One is that we have to keep chasing them over the ad in dispute and if they are not satisfied, they approach the higher courts. We need to revive the tatkal system that was in practice earlier so that the proceedings can be hastened.”
Dr Sanjay Kher of ASCI too sounded harsh when he said that something had to be done to make ASCI a force to reckon with. “A lot of FMCG brands, auto companies, etc get away by making false claims and there is nobody to question and counter-check those claims. Ads that promise results in a few days or weeks or better results need to be tested individually in labs so that its actual efficacy could be arrived at. We need to set up labs for the purpose.”
Sangeeta Kapila of CRY and a member of ASCI said that the motive behind partnering such a noble organization was to bring about a change in the lives of individuals. Whatever is being done, should be done keeping the larger interest of the society in mind, she said.
Following the session, Adi Godrej, Chairman of The Godrej Group doled out some words of wisdom as he presented some measures for the survival of the regulation and advertising industry. According to Mr Godrej, growing market share and profitability was the leading cause for many companies to engage in the game of one-upmanship. “Rather than engage in some guerilla warfare, it is important that we position ourselves as being the preferential partner in the minds of the consumer.” Mr Godrej proceeded to present his views on the changing role that business plays in the society; increasing complexity that prevails in the ad world; advertising ethics and cause for regulation; and, why the legal system is not regulating effectively. Mr Godrej summed up by suggesting ASCI to “not just represent the industry but be the industry. It’s only then that you’ll be able to play an effective role for the sake of the industry and the consumers at large.”