ASCI upholds complaints against 299 out of 489 advertisements, 151 ads withdrawn
Out of the 299 advertisements, 201 belonged to the education sector, 59 belonged to the healthcare sector, 9 to personal care, 4 to the food & beverages sector and 26 were from the ‘others’ category
During the month of July 2019, ASCI investigated complaints against 489 advertisements, of which 151 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers on receipt of communication from ASCI. The independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI evaluated 338 advertisements, of which complaints against 299 advertisements were upheld. Of these 299 advertisements, 201 belonged to the education sector, 59 belonged to the healthcare sector, nine to personal care, four to the food & beverages sector, and 26 were from the ‘others’ category.
ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising were not adhered by a consumer durable brand. The brand’s advertisement featured two top celebrities acting like a couple endorsing a renowned brand of air conditioners. The advertisement implied extremely rapid cooling performance whereas the claim was considered to be misleading. Moreover, there was no evidence of celebrity due diligence submitted by the advertiser.
In the Food and Beverages category, a popular brand ran a digital campaign that tried to misrepresent a scientific study by distorting the information to mislead gullible consumers. Another complaint was against a prominent airline offering cheap fares as part of an offer; however, all the important details were either missing or buried in the fine print.
Over 200 advertisements belonged to the education sector with advertisers making unsubstantiated claims such as being No. 1, holding awards or providing '100% placement' misleading students and parents. Few educational institutes were observed to downplay their status of being a “Deemed to be University” and presenting it in a misleading manner by overly emphasizing the word “University”.
The healthcare sector also saw a large number of advertisements pertaining to hospitals and clinics claiming best services, winning various awards or being able to cure various conditions ranging from infertility to piles, diabetes, HIV and cancer. A renowned hospital claimed to be the pioneer in overcoming Parkinson’s without providing any substantiation.
Food and Beverage
GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Ltd. (Horlicks Protein Plus): The YouTube Channel video introduces the advertisement communication as “Wondering why you're so tired all the time? Watch how to take the #RiseUpChallenge by Horlicks Protein +”. The video refers to complaints of “chronic tiredness” by participants of the Rise Up challenge, which is not necessarily linked to muscle strength alone. Such tiredness could be due to other health conditions such as loss of muscle mass, deconditioning, nutritional deficiencies, oxygen delivery, anaemia, etc. “Rise Up challenge” is to check the ability to move which is linked to many factors mentioned above as well as neurological normalcy, balancing apparatus in the brain etc. Muscle strength is one of the outcome factors of the Rise Up challenge; connecting this as a direct “screening test” for “chronic tiredness” by the advertiser was considered to be incorrect. Hence, “Failing the #RiseUpChallenge means you have poor muscle health” is misleading by exaggeration. The reference quoted in the disclaimer of a scientific paper was considered irrelevant in reference to the problem of “chronic tiredness” and considered to be misleading by ambiguity.
Rasna International Pvt. Ltd. (Rasna Insta EnerG): The television advertisement’s claim, “Jab Challenge Ban Jaaye Tagda, toh Mamuli Nahi Tagda Energy Drink, Rasna Insta Ener-G”, "Ye de real tagadi Energy, kyunki dusro ke mukable sirf Rasna Insta mei hai Real Fruit Powder, 21 Vitamin, Minerals our Glucose ki tagadi shakti" were not substantiated. The pack visual indicated that the advertised product has 90 gm of sugar per 100 gm and has only 0.5 gm Glucose, an ingredient known to provide "instant energy". The advertisement creates an impression that Rasna Insta EnerG gives more instant energy than glucose powder or Instant drink as the boy cadet rejects these products but gets instantly energised and keeps running for more than 19 rounds after consumption of the advertised product. The claim of instant energy was not substantiated with composition / FSSAI licence/pack artwork or samples, nor evidence of the ingredients present for the real fruit powder claim; also no comparison to show superiority over other generic glucose products was provided. The comparison shown in the advertisement is misleading by exaggeration and implication and disparages the entire category of all glucose powders and instant drinks. The advertisement also violated the ASCI Guidelines on Disclaimers and ASCI Guidelines on Advertising of Foods & Beverages.
Zydus Wellness Ltd (Nycil): The television advertisement’s claim translated from Hindi that features a model posing as a doctor states “Not just any other powder, you need Nycil that kills all germs instantly. Shows results in just three days” was misleading. Furthermore, the advertisement when seen in totality creates an impression that the advertised product is recognized by doctors for its efficacy and is recommended by doctors. In view of the Code of Medical Ethics prohibiting doctors from endorsing any product and in the absence of any market research data indicating that medical professionals, in general, recommend the advertised product, the TVC was considered to be misleading by ambiguity and implication. The TVC / YouTube advertisement may lead to widespread disappointment in their minds.
Reckitt Benckiser (India) Pvt Ltd (Durex Condoms): The twitter advertisement’s claim, “Nearly 70% of women in India don’t orgasm every time during sex”, was substantiated. However, the claim is based on an independent report and its source and date of research are not mentioned in the Twitter advertisement. The Twitter advertisement contravened Chapter I.2 of the ASCI Code which states that, where advertising claims are expressly stated to be based on or supported by independent research, the source and date should be indicated in the advertisement.
The CCC found that the claims made in the following advertisements were misleading, exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge and can lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
Havells India Limited (Lloyd AC): The television & YouTube advertisement’s claim “18 degree Celsius in 45 seconds” featuring celebrities Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh was misleading by ambiguity and implication. The visual impact in the advertisement seemed to imply that the room thermometer shows cooling to 18 degrees Celsius in 45 seconds. As per the test report provided, the air temperature of 18-degrees Celsius is reached at the grill, that too, under a given set of ambient indoor and outdoor conditions as well as humidity. The CCC was of the opinion that it is unlikely that the exit air temperature (even at the grill) will be attained in 45 seconds given the variables in a real-life situation such as outside temperature being 35 to 40 degrees as well as initial conditions in the room, its size and characteristics. The advertisement is also in violation of ASCI’s Guidelines for Celebrities in Advertising. The advertiser did not provide any evidence to show that the celebrities did due diligence prior to lending their name to the endorsement, to ensure that all descriptions, claims and comparisons made in the advertisement are capable of substantiation. The advertisement also violated the ASCI’s Guidelines for Disclaimers.
Suo Motu Surveillance by ASCI for misleading Advertisements
The advertisements given below were picked up through ASCI’s Suo Motu surveillance of Print and TV media via the National Advertisement Monitoring Services (NAMS) project. Out of 409 advertisements that were picked, 128 cases were resolved immediately wherein the advertisers confirmed that the advertisements were being withdrawn post receiving the complaints. Of the 281 advertisements examined by the CCC, complaints against 278 advertisements were upheld. Of these 278 advertisements, 193 belonged to the Education sector, 59 advertisements belonged to the Healthcare sector, seven belonged to the Personal Care category, and 19 fell in the “Others” category.
The CCC found that the claims made in the following 35 advertisements were misleading by exaggeration, exploited consumers’ lack of knowledge and could lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. The source of the claims was not mentioned in many of the advertisements. The advertisements also violated ASCI’s Guidelines for Advertising for Educational Institutions and Programs.
Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zee Educare): The print advertisement’s claim, “India's Largest Education Festival” is misleading by exaggeration. It was observed that there were many other Career, Education and Training Trade Shows in India in 2019; the advertiser failed to provide any authentic verifiable comparative data of the magnitude of other such education festivals and thus, did not have any basis to make a comparative or superlative claim.
Chate Group (Chate Coaching Classes): The print advertisement’s claim, “The only Class Providing Highest Merit” was not substantiated with verifiable comparative data and is misleading by exaggeration. There was no support data provided nor any evidence of comparison with other similar coaching classes, to prove that they are the only classes to provide the highest merit compared to all the others, by providing coaching for the claimed courses.
The CCC found that the claims made in the following 37 advertisements were misleading that exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge and could lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. Several claims were misleading by exaggeration.
Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital and Medical Research Institute: The print advertisement’s claim, “Pioneers in Overcoming Parkinson's” was not substantiated with proof that they were pioneers in the treatment of Parkinson’s nor any robust supporting clinical evidence is statistically significant number of patients treated and cured of / overcoming Parkinson’s at their hospital.
The CCC found that the claims in the following 19 advertisements were misleading and exploited consumers’ lack of knowledge which could lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
Times Internet Limited (TOI App): The print advertisement’s claim “India’s Most Trusted News Brand” merely based on the Reuters Institute India Digital News Report is not justified. The claim is misleading by ambiguity, omission and exaggeration. It was observed that the survey sample covered only English-language news users with internet access, this restricted coverage of the survey is too important a detail to be covered under a disclaimer. The advertisement violates ASCI’s Guidelines on Disclaimers.
Timex India Quartz Group Ltd-Timex: The print advertisement’s claim “battery life of more than 10 years” was inadequately substantiated and is misleading. The CCC observed that the product uses lithium batteries with high ratings (55 mAh) and with a very low current draw. Based on this a theoretical calculation was provided in the certificate, which indicates that the battery life to be more than 10 years. The advertiser did not test battery performance deterioration with respect to higher operating temperatures and self-discharge from the battery. The advertiser should have provided detailed battery degradation characteristics and tested the battery’s performance with the number of hours of operation.
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