ASCI now covers most of India’s total media spend: Subhash Kamath

ASCI will continue to focus on improving its processes for even faster turnaround by leveraging digital technology & platforms, says Kamath, the newly appointed Chairman

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Sep 11, 2020 9:34 AM

Following the first-ever virtual Annual General Meeting of The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) held on September 10, Subhash Kamath, Chief Executive Officer at BBH & Publicis Worldwide, India, was unanimously elected the Chairman of the Board of Governors of ASCI.

Kamath has been in the business of building brands for 32 years, 22 of which have been in senior leadership roles. Over those many years, he has worked with renowned creative agencies in India like Ogilvy, Trikaya Grey, Ambience Publicis and Bates 141. He was one of the founding Managing Partners at BBH India in 2009 and currently serves as the CEO for BBH & Publicis Worldwide, India (part of the Publicis Groupe).

Kamath also has been an active member of The Ad Club in the past and has served on the board of governors of ASCI (The Advertising Standards Council of India) since 2010. He succeeds Rohit Gupta, President, Sony Pictures Networks.

 exchange4media spoke to the newly elected Chairman on how he plans to chart a fresh course for the self-regulatory body in the post-Covid world, fast tracking the resolution of complaints, keeping a tab on misleading ads in tandem with the Consumer Protection Act and more.

Edited excerpts below:

What are your immediate objectives for ASCI for the next one year? How do you plan to chart a new course for the body in the post-Covid world?
This is a world vastly different from what it was even a year ago. It’s a post-COVID-19, digital world. The business, marketing and social contexts have changed significantly. All this makes it imperative for everyone to be more responsive and responsible. ASCI, like other organizations, must continue to be future facing and staying relevant in changing times. 

We must continue to build on our past milestones, as well as work hard to take our work to the next level.

Collaborations across different stakeholders and making ourselves technologically savvier will be some key objectives so that we are able to address the opportunities of the future stronger and better. 

How do you plan to update processes in terms of finding misleading ads in line with the Consumer Protection Act 2019?
The draft code recently released by the Central Consumer Protection Authority is very much aligned with ASCI’s own code. We’ve taken care to be in step with the times at every stage by updating the code and processes, and we’ll continue to do so. For instance, we recently started monitoring the digital space for misleading advertisements. We monitor 3,000 digital platforms in addition to print and TV monitoring through our National Advertising Monitoring Service. We now cover most of India’s total media spend.

How will the Act impact brands and agencies in terms of campaign creation?
We welcome the law and all steps to strengthen consumer protection. At ASCI, we believe that creativity and responsibility are not binaries. The advertising industry should continue to celebrate creativity, even as it encourages responsible advertising. 

Which industries, in your opinion, will have to bring about the most changes in terms of the way they advertise?
Last year, the food and beverage, healthcare and education sectors were the top 3 sectors in terms of complaints processed by ASCI.

What can you do to fast-track the resolution of complaints?
We already offer fast-tracking of complaint resolution. ASCI’s process is exhaustive and rigorous. We allow for time for all stakeholders to be heard, we invite expert opinions where needed which by most standards points to an extremely efficient process. We will continue to focus on improving our processes for even faster turnaround by leveraging digital technology and platforms.

What about brands that have not conformed to ASCI's codes and continue to be a part of the defaulter’s list. How can the body ensure it bridges the gap with such companies that are refusing to acknowledge the sanctity of a body like ASCI?
Fortunately, we don’t have a serious problem on that front. We have consistently had a high compliance rate – that’s the beauty of self-regulation. We’ve seen it work the world over when it comes to advertising. Self-regulatory bodies are quicker to react to social, technological and market changes. They tend to have greater acceptance and deliver better results – that’s why they enjoy widespread trust and high levels of compliance. We’re highly trusted by the consumer. Even government bodies have regularly partnered with ASCI to us for speedy and effective resolution of advertising complaints.

The few that don’t comply are referred to the regulator concerned.

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