Vodafone, Airtel, Idea ads under ASCI scanner

Claims by Vodafone and Airtel on speed were found unsubstantiated, while Idea's IIN ads were questioned for misleading consumers

Vodafone, Airtel, Idea ads under ASCI scanner

According to the April report of the ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council, the body upheld complaints against 114 out of 144 advertisements. Out of this, ads of three of the major telecom operators like Vodafone, Idea and Bharti Airtel were pulled up for what ASCI classified as misleading content. As a result, the advertisers were forced to remove those portions of the ad which couldn’t be substantiated with proper proof.

Commenting on this, Shweta Purandare, Secretary General, ASCI said, “ASCI looks at claims which include the voiceover as well as the disclaimers, so the communication is in totality. In many of the cases, we have received complaints from consumers and as well as intra industries. For telecom ads, even though I would not be able to name any organisation, but we have received intra-industry complaints before as well. So when these complaints, come to us, we write to the advertisers and they are given a week’s time to defend the claims they have made in the ads and also submit data in view of them. After which, they are reviewed by the technical team and then ASCI decides on it. The advertisers are then asked to either modify their claim suitably or remove it in entirety.”

The following ads were pulled up by ASCI for their misleading content:

The TVC of Vodafone which claims, “Share photos 43% faster” and “The fastest 3G network”. Along with this, the website also claimed, “Experience internet like never before with the fastest 3G network”,“ That’s why we offer you the fastest 3G network, which lets you surf, share photos and download videos quicker than ever before.”,  “Upload and Share photos 43% faster.”, “Download videos 22% faster.” And “Load web pages 23% faster.”  When ASCI asked the advertisers to substantiate these numbers, which were being used in the commercials, the latter couldn’t do. Therefore, the body asked them to delete those portions from the ad or remove the entire ad.

The second TVC was of Bharti Airtel’s ad where they claimed “Stream videos 26% faster” and “Battery lasts 8% longer on Airtel” were found misleading and therefore, had to be omitted.

The third commercial was from Idea Cellular for one of their Idea Internet Network (IIN) ads which was found misleading. The advertisement shows a girl stating that her mother had to give up her studies due to marriage. Then the lady enrols for a law course on IIN! They show the housewife continuing her studies, as if IIN is a university or institute offering formal courses. But the fact is that, IIN is not any institute. So on finding, that the advertisement was misleading, the claim of using the word ‘admission’ was questioned and then the later couldn’t get it substantiated, that particular word was dropped from the ad.

In the ASCI’s Consumer Complaint, February report as well, Idea Cellular’s IIN ad of Haryana girls, not being allowed to step out of homes to study, is an attempt to defame Haryana and it tends to bring this State into disrepute.  The TVC was also found misleading by implication as the product/service promoted IIN is shown as a substitute to and equating to college education.

IIN Haryana: Click here to view:

Purandare further added, “There is lot of consumer awareness today, added to that the ASCI awareness levels have also increased in the last few years. Thanks to social media, we are also able to listen to consumers, specially Twitter, where people are complaining about claims and the other misleading parts of the communications. We pick up this chatter and also reach out to consumers also, thereby making the entire process an easier one. Our recently launched mobile app has also been quite successful with people finding it convenient to lodge a complaint anytime.”

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