We will come up with a strong process for digital advertising: Rohit Gupta, Chairman, ASCI

Gupta, the newly elected Chairman of ASCI, speaks to exchange4media about how the self-regulatory body will continue to reinvent itself and further build consumer awareness

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Sep 20, 2019 9:33 AM
Rohit Gupta

At the board meeting, following the 33rd Annual General Meeting of The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) held on September 19, Rohit Gupta, President, Sony Pictures Networks, was unanimously elected the Chairman of the Board of Governors of ASCI.  Gupta has spent over 30 years in holding key leadership positions across consumer, media and entertainment industries. He succeeds D Shivakumar, Group Executive President, Corporate Strategy, Aditya Birla Group.

exchange4media spoke to the newly elected Chairman on how he plans to chart a new course for the self-regulatory body, the government’s intervention in regulating advertising 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? 

Firstly, in the last few years, we have worked really hard on consumer awareness. It grew more than 30 per cent with over 6,000 complaints. We want to build on that. We believe that the more aware the consumer is, the more ASCI can do around it. Secondly, with digital advertising growing at the fast pace that it is, we need to come up with a strong process for digital too which we will be looking at. Lastly, post the recent Consumer Protection Act that puts the onus on celebrities, we will work with all stakeholders, to set guidelines on it and to further build consciousness and awareness around it as celebrities need to be accountable and responsible with regards to their endorsement choices.

 We’ve seen that misleading, false ads have risen over the years. Some of the categories that stand-out are medicine and education. What can you do at ASCI to specifically reduce the number of complaints that come out of these consumer-centric sectors?

One is to make sure that, brands know their responsibility. Second is to work with key stakeholders to see if we can bring misleading ads down.

What can you do fast-track the resolution of complaints?

I believe that we ensure that such ads are rigidly taken off, as fast as possible. People are responding to ASCI and you definitely see them pulling out ads. 

What is your opinion on the government’s intervention when it comes to the regulation of advertising? Can ASCI work in tandem with a government body?

Absolutely. The fact that consumer awareness has grown to 30 per cent means a lot. With the interaction that has happened, the government is extremely happy. We ensure that we work closely with them. They have left it to self-regulation. And we will continue to work in tandem with government bodies.

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?

I believe that most brands today totally adhere to ASCI’s rules and regulations. ASCI being a body of industry, people take it extremely seriously. 

With the Delhi District Court ruling that all advertisers to come under ASCI purview, how do you see things shaping up?

It is a testimony to the fact that with processes like CCE that fast-track things, judges sitting on it within the framework of law, ASCI’s processes are very strong. That will only continue to grow more. We are also aware that we need to continue reinventing ourselves and will continue to do so.  We received 6,000 complaints which to us is a good sign. A higher number of complaints is a good thing because more people are aware. When we look at these statistics, it reinforces our faith that the consumer awareness program has done well for itself. 


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