ASCI upholds complaints against 98 ‘misleading’ ads in June

The regulator received 159 complaints, of which 25 were upheld in healthcare category, 20 in education, 11 in food and beverages and 6 in e-commerce sector


A screen grab of self-regulatory body Advertising Standards Council of India.
A screen grab of self-regulatory body Advertising Standards Council of India.

New Delhi: The self-regulatory body Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has pulled up several companies, including LG, Renault, Lenovo, Patanjali Ayurved and Godrej Consumer Products, for misleading advertisements in June.

During the month, the customer complaints council (CCC) of the ASCI upheld complaints against 98 misleading advertisements, which also included those of e-commerce firms ibibo, Paytm, Policybazaar, Naaptol Online Shopping and Uber India.

The regulator received 159 complaints of misleading ads during the month, of which 25 were upheld in the healthcare category, 20 in education, 11 in food and beverages and 6 in the e-commerce sector.

According to ASCI, claim by Renault India that its multi-purpose vehicle Lodgy is the number one multi-purpose vehicle in India was found to be misleading after it failed to substantiate its claim.

“The advertisement’s claim as Renault Lodgy—India’s No. 1 MPV was not substantiated with market share sales data, and is misleading,” ASCI said.

Reacting to the ASCI order, Renault India said ASCI had approached the company two months ago and the advertisement at that point was based on the results published by a leading trade magazine.

“Once this issue was brought to the notice of Renault, the company immediately changed the advert, which was in line with the standards set by ASCI. We would like to reiterate that we have no intention to mislead the public by our advertisement and the same was changed immediately,” the company said in a statement.

ASCI also pulled up Haridwar-based Patanjali for its two products—Patanjali Juices and Patanjali Energy Bar—as the ad regulator found that claims were “not substantiated” and “grossly misleading”.

It said that in the ad of Energy Bar, Patanjali had “unfairly denigrated the entire class/category of chocolates” and claimed that Patanjali fruit juices were cheaper with more fruit pulp.

When contacted, a Patanjali spokesman said: “We have already challenged ASCI’s power in this regard. The matter is now before the Bombay high court.”

For May, ASCI upheld 10 complaints against Ramdev-promoted Patanjali Ayurved for products such as Jeera Biscuit, Kacchi Ghani mustard oil, Kesh Kanti and Dant Kanti, among others.

FMCG major Godrej Consumer Products also failed to substantiate its claim of three times longer stay for its Cinthol Deo Stick. “The advertisement’s claim ‘3X longer’ is not substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity and exaggeration as the advertisement indicates the product to be 3X better than all deodorants while it has been tested against only two marketed products,” said ASCI.

ASCI also held Uber’s claim of Rs10 rate as misleading for consumers. “The claim offer, Uber Moto-flat rate of Rs10, was misleading by omission of the validity period,” it reasoned.

Consumer electronics maker LG also failed to back up its claims of its smart inverter refrigerator. “The claims in the advertisement, New Smart Inverter Compressor, Saves up to 48% energy, Dual fridge, 100% faster conversion from freezer to fridge, Auto smart connect and Consumes power less than 2 CFL bulbs, were not substantiated with technical data and are misleading by ambiguity,” ASCI said.

Comments from GCPL and Uber could not be obtained immediately as emailed queries went unanswered.

Similarly, the ASCI slammed online hotel aggregator goibibo for its refer-and-earn scheme. “The claim offer, refer friends to download app and get free hotel night stay for 1st referral plus 1,000 goCash, is misleading by ambiguity and implication as in reality, the advertiser is only giving a Rs1,000 discount for that one night stay,” it added.

Chinese technology major Lenovo was also pulled up over its claims of its Android smartphone Lenovo Vibe P1M for being water resistant and other features. “The advertisement’s claims, water-resistant build... protection against sudden drizzle and accidental spills were not substantiated adequately and are misleading in absence of a qualifier,” the ad regulator said.

Consumer electronics maker LG said its claim is based on facts and data. “LG’s range of refrigerators have been developed, especially for the Indian market. Our technology ensures energy savings. The same is communicated in our TV commercial. It is based on facts and data,” said an LG spokesperson.

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