Bigger brands are moving towards ethically & socially conscious marketing: D Shivakumar

The Chairman of ASCI believes the Consumer Protection Bill will see celebrities gravitate towards credible brands

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Sep 18, 2019 9:12 AM



During the month of June 2019, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) investigated complaints against 334 advertisements, of which 106 were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers as soon as they received communication from ASCI. The independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI upheld complaints against 190 advertisements, out of the 228 they evaluated. Of these 190 advertisements, 112 belonged to the education sector, 40 to the healthcare, 10 to personal care, seven to the food & beverages sector, five to the media/broadcasting sector, five from consumer durables and 11 were from the ‘others’ category.

D Shivakumar, Chairman, ASCI, spoke to exchange4media about the latest trends and the state of the advertising space after the Consumer Protection Bill.


The Consumer Protection Bill has been the biggest highlight in the ad space in the past few months. Are brands becoming conscious with their ad content? What is the kind of trend you have noticed?

I think there is no definitive answer to that. We have noticed that bigger brands are moving towards ethically and socially conscious marketing as most of the new-age consumers expect brands to walk the talk. Additionally, it is a powerful way for big businesses to shape their brand and connect with consumers on a deeper level. At the same time, prominent brands can go berserk with their claims, particularly in keenly contested categories that are close to commodity. Over the last few years, we have seen that the highest incidences of misleading advertisements are in healthcare products & services (magic remedies) and the education sector. 


Tell us about the highlights of FY 2018-19? What is the next big thing in the industry that is on the cards to make the aesthetics of the space better?

Indian advertising is possibly one of the best in the world in terms of creativity. People like Piyush Pandey and Prasoon Joshi have elevated Indian advertising. The media space has come alive with innovation led by stalwarts like CVL Srinivas, Shashi Sinha, Uday Shankar and NP Singh. The amount of media innovations one sees in India is staggering. The shift to digital is clear and omnipresent. Advertising is about ensuring that we do not offend sensibilities while being creative and heart-warming. India’s spend on advertising as a per capita measure is still low and we will come of age in a few years.


Celebrities will now be charged penalty for endorsing misleading ads. Do you think that will deter celebrities from taking up any and every offer that comes their way and be selective about what to endorse?

Celebrity endorsements contribute to a large portion of advertising spends, and we feel that advertisers will continue to use celebrities to promote their brands. India has more than 1,660 pieces of content with celebrities now, and the total TV advertising spend on celebrity-based brands is about Rs 6700 crore, which is 25 per cent of all advertising. The top 20 celebrities endorse 314 brands among them.

With the new Consumer Protection Bill passed, we should see that it cultivates a broader sense of responsibility among celebrities and make them more attentive to claims made, while signing brand endorsements. Celebrities may also become selective and gravitate towards brands that have more credibility and have a due diligence processes in place.

Are the consumers truly empowered after the Bill? What are the advantages they have now?

The purpose of the Bill itself is to safeguard the interest of consumers. If the consumer is exposed to honest communication, they will make more informed choices. The advertising fraternity will have to be more mindful of the communication they create. They cannot afford a mistake as the consequences will be severe. This Bill will act as a deterrent (against mislead) for a lot of manufacturers and service providers, especially in unorganised sectors, and for unregulated industries or unscrupulous elements.

Do you see the impact of the Consumer Protection Bill already? What is the compliance rate at the moment?

It is too early to comment on the impact of the Bill as the fine print of the policy is still being worked on. The industry compliance rate for decisions made by the independent Consumer Complaints Council on complaints is more than 90 per cent and for TV it is 100 per cent. These are very healthy numbers provided that ASCI’s self-regulatory mechanism is successful.


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