ASCI launches 'Advertising Advice' to nip misleading & problematic ads in the bud

The paid service is open to all members and non-members of ASCI and can be used by the advertisers and agencies during the pre-production phase of the campaigns

e4m by Mansi Sharma
Updated: Sep 22, 2021 7:46 AM
ASCI

In its attempt to further aid responsible advertising in the country, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has launched a bespoke “Advertising Advice” service for the industry. This paid service is open to all members and non-members of ASCI and can be used by the advertisers and agencies during the pre-production phase of the campaigns. They can reach out to the self-regulatory body with their scripts and storyboards, which will be reviewed by a team of advertising and domain experts within three to seven days. 

It is important to note that this service is not intended to be a pre-clearance, and advertisers may use the advice to better their ads in a manner they deem fit.  

The panel of advertising experts are going to be highly experienced and retired advertising professionals who are quite aware of the industry and also the ASCI code of conduct. It will be ensured that no breach of sensitive information about the campaign happens and no conflict of interest occurs when the panel is asked to review any campaign script, ASCI Secretary-General Manisha Singh assured while launching the services. On the other hand, the technical experts are going to be people with strong domain knowledge to ensure that no misleading claims are being made via the advertisements. The technical panel currently includes, Prof Jayesh Bellare (chemical, FMCG), Prof Smita Lele (food and nutrition), Dr Punit Saraogi (dermatology), Dr Rohinton Bilimoria (dentistry), and DR D.B. A. Narayana (Ayurveda). 

Subhash Kamath, Chairman, ASCI, said: “As ASCI steps into its next phase, the Advertising Advice service will be a crucial element in the cause of self-regulation. The service gives brands a chance to better prepare their campaigns and mitigate reputational risks. While there is no guarantee that consumers will not raise a claim against a brand, the advisory does help brands take steps to ensure that their campaigns don’t violate any norms formulated to protect consumer interest. We believe that this advisory service will provide the necessary support to the advertising ecosystem to create more responsible ads without affecting creativity.” 

Manisha Kapoor, Secretary-General, ASCI, said: “The advisory can be used by brands to great effect while planning their campaigns. Brands wish to be competitive and push the boundaries of claims. With this service, we can support advertisers to make strong claims while not crossing the all-important lines of honesty, decency, fairness and safety. An external scrutiny by experts at the pre-production stage can add tremendous value to campaign development. Post release of the campaign, any stoppage can cause significant disruption and cost for an organization. But by making this a part of the way advertisers think of campaigns at an early stage, such risks can be mitigated. We see this as a win-win for advertisers and consumers, who then get exposed to fewer problematic ads” 

As a self-regulatory body, ASCI aims not just to be an industry watchdog, but also help protect consumers from objectionable ads in the first place. For the advertisers, it provides confidential quick expertise to help them make more responsible advertising.  Advertisers will be able to modify claims and depictions at the pre-production stage itself, thus saving them effort, money as well as possible loss of reputation once the advertisement is already in the marketplace. The service aims to help advertisers balance creativity with responsibility and is being offered in line with best global practices followed by different self-regulatory organizations. What is quite unique in the ASCI Advertising Advice service is that the Advertising Advice panel will also include technical experts in different specialties who can examine the claim and evidence for technical claim support.

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