COVID-19: ASCI monitoring ads making unsubstantiated & opportunistic claims
The number of complaints on ASCI’s WhatsApp facility has tripled
The facility introduced by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to register complaints via WhatsApp has enabled quick, easy and free redressal of complaints against objectionable advertisements.
The number of consumers contacting ASCI via WhatsApp from across India has steadily increased over the years, more so after many channels started carrying this number in their scroll as per the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting advisory of January 2019 creating awareness about ASCI. The number of complaints attributed to this WhatsApp source have tripled.
According to Shweta Purandare, Secretary General, ASCI, “Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, there is widespread anxiety, confusion and fear amongst public at large. ASCI is monitoring advertisements that are making unsubstantiated and opportunistic claims. We have issued notices to advertisers for immediate suspension of such advertisements pending investigation. ASCI’s active Social Media listening as well as availability of the WhatsApp number 7710012345 during the lockdown period have been key in enabling ASCI to act swiftly.”
During the month of December 2019, ASCI investigated complaints against 310 advertisements, of which 77 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers on receipt of communication from ASCI. The independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI evaluated remaining 233 advertisements, of which complaints against 225 advertisements were upheld. Of these 225 advertisements, 124 belonged to the education sector, 66 belonged to the healthcare sector, seven to the food & beverages sector, six to personal care and 22 were from the ‘others’ category.
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