ASCI processes complaints against 590 advertisements, 558 regarding misleading claims

The most common reason for upholding complaints were unsubstantiated claims in the Education sector such as providing “100% placement”, “guaranteed immigration”, “No.1”

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In August and September 2018, ASCI investigated complaints against 590 advertisements. For 131 advertisements, the advertisers promptly ensured corrective action as soon as the complaints were received. ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 355 advertisements from a total of 459 advertisements evaluated by them.

Of the 355 advertisements wherein the complaints were upheld, 201 belonged to the education sector, 62 to the healthcare sector, 24 to the food & beverages category, 24 to personal care, seven violated BARC Guidelines and 37 were from the ‘others’ category.

The most common reason for upholding complaints were unsubstantiated claims in the Education sector such as providing “100% placement”, “guaranteed immigration”, “No.1”. This was followed by exaggeration of product efficacy and exploiting consumers’ lack of knowledge, violations of Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising, BARC Guidelines, Drugs and Magic Remedies (DMR) Regulations. Many of the claims were misleading and likely to lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

Amongst various advertisements that were examined, the CCC observed that a renowned celebrity was found endorsing a well-known air hostess training institute claiming to be “World’s No. 1 institute”. Another advertisement had a popular celebrity endorsing an anti-pimple product promising pimple free skin whereas this claim was inadequately substantiated and misleading by exaggeration. Furthermore, a famous celebrity couple endorsed a soap brand; the advertisement implies that the product has the effectiveness of turmeric whereas the mechanism of action is due to another antimicrobial ingredient. These advertisements contravened ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising.

DIRECT COMPLAINTS:

The following advertisements were a violation of ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising. The advertisers did not provide any evidence to show that the celebrities did due diligence prior to lending their name for the endorsements, to ensure that claims made in the advertisements are capable of substantiation:

1. Frankfinn Aviation Services Pvt. Ltd. (Frankfinn Institute of Air Hostess Training): The advertisement’s claim featuring Alia Bhat, “World’s No 1 Airhostess Training Institute”, was not substantiated with verifiable comparative data of the advertiser’s institute and other similar institutes worldwide or through third-party validation to prove its leadership position (No.1). The claim is misleading by exaggeration and is likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

2. L’Oréal India P. Ltd (Garnier Men Acnofight Facewash): The advertisement featured celebrity Tiger Shroff. The claims, “Want to win the pimple fight? Then why soap, switch to Garnier Men AcnoFight facewash” and “Stay Germ-free, Stay Pimple free”, were inadequately substantiated and are misleading by exaggeration.

3. Hindustan Unilever Ltd (Sunsilk Think and Long): In the advertisement, celebrity Alia Bhatt was seen endorsing the shampoo with claims, “Sunsilk thick and long with keratin yogurt”, and “Two times thicker looking hair”. While the advertiser substantiated the claims, the disclaimer, “Based on lab test with Sunsilk Thick and Long shampoo and conditioner versus unclean hair”, qualifying the comparative claim “Two times thicker looking hair”, was not positioned in close proximity of the claim.

4. Medlife International Private Limited (Medlife Pharmacy): For the claim, “India’s Most trusted Pharmacy” the advertiser did not provide any market research data, third-party validation or comparative data (between the advertiser’s pharmacy and other pharmacies selling pharmaceutical products through online portals) to prove that they are the most trusted. The claim is misleading by exaggeration and likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. The advertisement features two celebrities (Boman Irani and Varun Sharma) as well.

5. Hindustan Unilever Ltd (Lifebuoy Haldi Soap): The advertisement’s claim, “Lifebuoy Haldi de skin infection ke kitanuon se suraksha” is misleading by ambiguity, implication, and omission in the reference to Active Silver being the antimicrobial ingredient.

6. Reckitt Benckiser (India) Pvt Ltd (New Veet Nikhaar): In the advertisement, the claim, “With 100% natural Turmeric extracts”, (especially the emphasis on the presence of turmeric extract and in the context of brightening/nikhaar benefits) was considered to be misleading by ambiguity, exaggeration, and implication. The celebrity Shraddha Kapoor was seen endorsing the product by claiming “Veet Nikhar for Visibly Brighter skin” which was inadequately substantiated.

The two advertisements listed below violated Chapter III (Unsafe Practices) of the ASCI Code:

7. Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (Mahindra Scorpio): In the advertisement, an SUV was seen driving in the middle of the road on the straight line. As per traffic rules, one must not change lanes or drive on the straight line and the advertisement did not abide by the ASCI Code. This scene in the TVC portrays traffic rule violation, shows a dangerous practice and manifests a disregard for safety. It also encourages unsafe or reckless driving which could harm the driver and the general public. Furthermore, the visual in the TVC did not have a cautionary message drawing the viewer’s attention to the depiction of stunts.

8. Apple India Private Limited (Apple iPhone X): In the advertisement, a male protagonist is seen playing virtual reality game and is typing a message on the iPhone while walking on the road; he subsequently imagines the characters from game in real life and is seen jumping, kicking and hitting the creatures advancing towards him. All these acts are done by a boy on the road amongst people and moving vehicles. These acts show a dangerous practice without justifiable reason, manifest a disregard for safety and encourage negligence. The actions shown are likely to encourage minors to emulate such acts in a manner which could cause harm or injury.

EDUCATION: 

The following advertisements were considered to be misleading and also likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers:

1. Asian Business School: The advertisement’s claim, “Highest package offered 15 lakhs per annum”, was misleading by ambiguity and implication that the said offer was achievable by their students.

2. Singhania University: The advertisement’s claims, “India’s first innovative industrial training based placement oriented education”, and “India’s first innovative competitive exams focused integrated curriculum”, were not substantiated with any verifiable comparative data to prove that they are pioneers in providing innovative training/exams. The claims are misleading by exaggeration.

PERSONAL CARE:

1. Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (Lever Ayush Antimarks Turmeric Face cream): The advertisement’s claims, “A skin care treatment formulated with 5000 years of Ayurvedic wisdom from the granthas” and “The purifying properties of Turmeric (haldi) are known to enhance complexion” and “Kumkumadi Tailam is known to cure marks” were inadequately substantiated.

2. Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (Lever Ayush Natural Fairness Saffron Face cream): The advertisement’s claims, “A fairness treatment formulated with 5000 years of Ayurvedic wisdom” and “The rich blend of Saffron and Kumkumadi Tailam is known to cure marks and lighten skin complexion” were inadequately substantiated.

3. Hindustan Unilever Ltd. – Pure Derm Shampoo: The advertisement’s claim, "100% tak Dandruff Jayega Aur Waapas Nahin Aayega” is misleading by omission and ambiguity. For the claim to hold true, it was considered necessary that the disclaimer mentions the duration of use (daily for four weeks) required to achieve “Up to 100% dandruff removal” state and that this disclaimer is legible.

HEALTHCARE:

1. Dr. Batra’s Positive Health Clinic (Dr. Batra’s Geno Homeopathy): The advertisement’s claim, “Geno Homeopathy – a breakthrough treatment based on Gene Analysis for ailments across all age groups” was not substantiated and was misleading by exaggeration.

2. Huxley’s Company (India) (Wintogeno Pain Reliever): The advertisement’s claim, “Most reliable and powerful pain reliever since 1899”, was not substantiated with third-party validation or any verifiable yearly comparative data since 1899 of the product and other products of the category. The claim, “No harmful ingredients used”, was not substantiated with evidence of approval from regulatory authorities. The claim, “Apply Wintogeno two times a day and take Wintogeno joint pain tablet twice in a day after meals and experience the double relief”, was not substantiated with any scientific or technical data.

3. Shree Dhanvantri Herbals - Swing Forte Capsule: The advertisement’s claim, “Improves arousal and stamina in sexual disorders,” was considered to be, prima facie, in violation of The Drugs & Magic Remedies (DMR) Act.

FOOD AND BEVERAGES:

1. Hindustan Unilever Natural Ltd. (Red Label Care): The advertisement’s claim, “De aam viral infection se zyaada suraksha” was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity and implication. In addition, the disclaimers in the advertisement are in contravention of the ASCI Guidelines on Disclaimers for hold duration and legibility.

2. Marico Ltd. (Saffola Active): The product description on amazon website claiming, “Saffola active absorbs 28% lesser fat as compared to other oils”, YouTube advertisement claim, “Up to 28% less fat absorption” (Original Hindi claim, “iska low absorb khane me tel ka absorption kare 28% tak kam”), and advertiser’s website claim, “Saffola Active - Absorbs up to 28% lesser fat as compared to other single seed oils”, was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by omission. The advertiser is making a specific quantitative claim for the test done only on one food item, and not for a variety of fried foods that are commonly cooked at home.

3. Marico Ltd. (Saffola Gold): The advertisement’s claim, “Saffola Gold has Losorb Technology which ensures up to 20% less oil absorption in food, as compared to other leading cooking oils” was inadequately substantiated as the advertiser is making a specific quantitative claim for test done only on one food item, and not for variety of fried foods that are commonly cooked at home. The claim is misleading by omission.

4. Nestle India Ltd (Nestle Ceregrow): The advertisement’s claims, “Pet bharke to khila diya, par muscle bharke nahi khilaya”, “Pet bharke toh khilati hogi par immunity bharke nahi” and “Jiska har bowl hai bhara iron aur ghane poshan se” were inadequately substantiated. The CCC observed that the explanation for the claim of “Poora Poshan” given by the Advertiser is contradictory. On one side they claim that Proteins are 38% and Vitamins and Minerals are 15% of RDA for the age for which the product is made and not 100% RDA to justify the claim “Poora Poshan”. This is misleading because Consumer mothers may think that one bowl is enough of the daily nutrition of their child between 2 to 5 years. The claims are misleading by ambiguity and implication and are likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. Additionally, the disclaimers in the TVC were not in the same language as the audio of the TVC (Hindi).

Leadership claims by channels / Violation of BARC Guidelines:

1. ARG Outlier Media (Republic TV): In the advertisement, Republic TV has used only two hours of BARC data to stake No.1 position, which is impermissible and in violation of BARC regulations.

2. ARG Outlier Media – (Republic TV): In the advertisement, Republic TV has made leadership claim under Single Event Reporting. As per BARC Guidelines, an event that happens five times a week for 60 weeks at a trot is distinctly not a single event. In the context of impermissible use of BARC data, the Ad – mailer contravened Chapter I.3 of the ASCI Code.

3. ARG Outlier Media (Republic TV): In the advertisement, “Republic TV has made leadership claim under Single Event Reporting. As per BARC Guidelines, an event that happens five times a week for 65 weeks at a trot is distinctly not a single event. In the context of impermissible use of BARC data, the Ad – mailer contravened Chapter I.3 of the ASCI Code.

OTHERS:

1. LG Electronics India Pvt Ltd (LG Refrigerator): The advertisement’s claim, “Linear Cooling” was not substantiated with technical data for product feature claiming to offer cooling all across the refrigerator. The claim, “Keeps food fresh up to 14 days”, was not substantiated with comparative data or with technical test reports of the product. The claims are misleading by exaggeration.

2. Shopkio: The website advertisement offer of “Attractive Blue Colored Printed Khadi Silk Saree Online”, with the visual of the model shown with the same colour saree, misleading by distortion, and misrepresented facts. The advertisement is likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

3. Franke Faber India Ltd. (Faber 3D Hood Chimney): The advertisement’s claim, “Makes your kitchen completely smoke-free” was not substantiated and is misleading by exaggeration.

SUO MOTO Surveillance by ASCI:

EDUCATION: 

1. Udaipur Study Circle: The advertisement’s claim, “The only institute of UGC in South Rajasthan which has given highest selections in IAS/RAS/RPS and Teachers Post”, was not substantiated and is misleading by exaggeration. The claim is likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

2. HNN Institute of Practical Journalism: The advertisement’s claim, “Uttarakhand’s No. 1 and country’s upcoming news channel” was not substantiated with comparative viewership data to prove its leadership position (No.1) and is misleading by exaggeration and implication. Voice-over claim, “Guaranteed Job” was not substantiated with verifiable supporting data of e students with jobs after completion of their training programs. The claims are likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

HEALTHCARE:

1. Dr. Batra’s Positive Health Clinic (Dr. Batra’s Geno Homeopathy): The advertisement’s claims, “Gene-targeted homeopathic therapy”, “Predict and prevent genetic diseases 15-20 years before they show up in other tests safely through Homeopathy” and “With Geno Homeopathy, we combine the goodness of Homeopathy with the science of genetics to enhance treatment results” were not substantiated and are misleading by exaggeration. The claims exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge and are likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

2. Dr. Batra’s Positive Health Clinic: The advertisement’s claim, “The Homeopathy tablets remove/ gets rid of diseases forever” was not substantiated with supporting clinical evidence. Specific to the visual showing increase in stature of a minor, implying height increase with the use of their Homeopathy tablets, the TVC is in breach of the law as it violates The Drugs & Magic Remedies (DMR) Act. The claim is misleading by gross exaggeration and exploits consumers’ lack of knowledge and is likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

3. Dr. Richa’s Unique Clinic: The advertisement’s claim, “International Certified No.1 Clinic” was not substantiated with supporting evidence of the advertiser’s clinic being internationally certified and is misleading by exaggeration. The claim, “Height Treatment - increase height 2-7 cm within 2 months” was not substantiated with supporting clinical evidence. Specific to the claims implying treatment for height increase, the advertisement is in breach of the law as it violated The Drugs & Magic Remedies (DMR) Act.

FOOD AND BEVERAGES:

1. Marico Ltd (Saffola Gold Oil): The advertisement’s claim, ‘’Mera Saffola Gold de 3 antioxidants ki Shakti” was misleading by ambiguity and implication.

2. Soham Aqua India (Kingfisher Spring Natural Mineral): The advertisement’s claim, that the advertisement depicting the Kingfisher brand name is a surrogate advertisement for promotion of a liquor product – Kingfisher Premium Beer. The advertisement is misleading by implication and contravened Chapters I.4 and III.6(b) of the ASCI Code (Whether there exists in the advertisement under complaint any direct or indirect clues or cues which could suggest to consumers that it is a direct or indirect advertisement for the product whose advertising is restricted by this Code).

3. Cadila Healthcare Ltd (Nutralite Mayo): The advertisement claiming to be “Healthier” was not substantiated with comparative technical data or scientific rationale and was misleading by ambiguity, implication, and omission of the mention of the basis of comparison. The claim is likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

PERSONAL CARE:

1. Lotus Herbals Ltd (Lotus Safe Sun Block SPF 40): The advertisement’s claim, “SPF 40” was not substantiated with evidence of the claimed SPF values. The claim is misleading by exaggeration and is likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

2. Henna Industries Pvt Ltd (Color Mate Hair color): The advertisement’s claim, “Hibiscus strengthens your hair and prevents hair loss” is misleading by implication that hibiscus in hair colour product would strengthen hair and prevent hair loss. The claim is likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

3. Keya Seth’s Ayurvedic Solution (Stoppage Cream): The advertisement’s claims, “Whether age is fifty-three or forty-three, you will look exactly like thirty-three” and “Stoppage Cream prevents skin folds, wrinkles, stains, and looseness, dullness due to the effects of age” were not substantiated with product efficacy data and are misleading by exaggeration. The claims are likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

OTHERS:

1. Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd (Godrej Air Conditioner): The advertisement’s claim, “India's Most Heavy-Duty AC Range” was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by exaggeration and implication. The claim is likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

2. Lenskart.com: The advertisement’s claim, “India's No.1 optical showroom” was not substantiated with third-party validation or any verifiable comparative data to prove that they are in a leadership position (No.1) in India. The claim is misleading by exaggeration and is likely to lead to a grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

3. Times Internet Limited (Gaana.com): The advertisement’s claim, “India’s Favourite Music App” was not substantiated with subscriber data or market research data and is misleading by exaggeration and implication.

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