Horlicks, Vim bar and Budweiser ads found to be misleading consumers: ASCI

Advertising industry watchdog’s consumer complaint council upheld complaints against 98 out of 162 commercials in October 2016


Out of ads against which complaints were upheld, 37 belonged to the healthcare category, six were food and beverages firms and five were personal care products makers.
Out of ads against which complaints were upheld, 37 belonged to the healthcare category, six were food and beverages firms and five were personal care products makers.

Advertising industry watchdog’s consumer complaint council (CCC) upheld complaints against 98 out of 162 commercials in October 2016.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) report mentions ads from some of the big firms across sectors.

Out of ads against which complaints were upheld, 37 belonged to the healthcare category, six were food and beverages firms and five were personal care products makers. Nineteen belonged to the ‘others’ category.

In the food and beverage category, ads for GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Ltd’s energy drink brand Horlicks were found misleading. In one of the campaigns, the company claimed that Horlicks has two times higher immune-nutrients, which help support a child’s immunity, a claim ASCI found to be inadequately substantiated and misleading by implication. An email query to GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Ltd remained unanswered.

Promoting its variant Horlicks Growth Plus, the company stated that the variant naturally enhances bone growth. The use of word “naturally” for an artificially composed drink is likely to mislead the consumers, ASCI said.

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Cargill India was rapped for two misleading ads for its cooking oil variants under the Nature Fresh brand. Two brands that used surrogate advertising to promote alcohol and pan masala category were also hauled up by the watchdog. The Twitter campaign of AB Inbev India owned beer brand Budweiser as well as pan masala brand Pan Bahar’s Pierce Brosnan campaign were hauled up for contravening multiple ASCI codes.

In the others category, Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) owned dish washing brand Vim bar’s television spot was found misleading. Aired in South India markets, the spot showcases the visual of the ordinary bar (a green round bar in round red container) resembling Vim’s competitor Exo Bar, implying the latter was inferior, ASCI said.

Apart from indirectly attacking competition, there was a mismatch between the claim ‘Vim removes grease fastest’ on the product pack and its corresponding disclaimer (as per an independent lab test conducted on burnt food stain). While the claim refers to grease, the disclaimer and the pack visual appears to show a kadhai (pan) with burnt food stain being cleaned.

“As a responsible marketer and member of ASCI, we have always complied with ASCI guidelines and recommendations. We have suitably modified the advertisement as per ASCI’s recommendation,” said a HUL spokesperson.

Apart from Vim Bar, the other brands in this category included Vodafone, Airtel, Air India, State Bank of India, Usha Fans, Panasonic Life Conditioners, Samsung and Ghadi detergent.

“The compliance rate from the advertisers continues to be high. We have received compliance with the codes from the majority of the advertisers mentioned in the October report,” said Shweta Purandare, secretary general, ASCI.

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