New Delhi: The Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) has upheld complaints against several consumer goods companies, including Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), Coca-Coca India and Gillette India Ltd, for ads that it agreed were in contravention of the ASCI code for self-regulation.
Some 21 complaints were upheld by ASCI’s consumer complaints council during the April-June period against advertisements that were considered false, misleading, indecent, illegal and leading to unsafe practices or unfair to competition. The council also rejected 20 complaints.
The council handles complaints that can be filed by any ASCI member, consumer representational organization or a company.
Gillette had to withdraw a television advertisement that said a Gillette Vector Plus blade lasts for three weeks, which gave an impression to consumers that the blade lasts for 21 shaves whereas it lasts for only about seven shaves. The ad’s fine print did say “only on the basis of one shave every three days”, but the fine print appeared on the screen for too short a period for audiences to read fully.
Of the five complaints registered against HUL, four were upheld. HUL withdrew two TV commercials after that.
HUL had to withdraw an advertisement on its Lux brand of soap. The advertisement was in a cartoon format, but its content, portrayal and audio were considered as being for adults. The complaint alleged that the ad bombarded images of sexual nature on young impressionable minds of children. The council noted that the campaign “was aired on Cartoon Network, a channel watched by children (and) the contents, depiction of visuals in a cartoon format, were considered offensive to generally accepted standards of public decency”.
Similarly, HUL had to discontinue an advertisement on Fair and Lovely cream after a complaint that the general layout and visual presentation of the commercial was similar to that of Garnier Light Matte and that it unfairly attacked the Garnier brand.
According to the council, the HUL commercial unfairly denigrated the complainants’ product. ASCI said it is still considering complaints against advertisements by HUL for its Domex brand floor cleaner and Red Label Natural Care Tea. “The work is in progress in these two cases, as assurance of compliance is awaited from the advertiser or the ad agency,” said Alan Collaco, general secretary, ASCI.
A complaint against HUL’s water purifier brand, Pureit, was not upheld after the company was able to substantiate the ad claim that “Pureit removes cancer-causing pesticides and kills harmful viruses and bacteria.”
HUL, being India’s largest advertiser, does tend to have “more instances of complaints being filed against the company,” Collaco said.
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola, which showed a Bollywood actor driving a car in a rash and negligent manner to secure his Thumps Up bottle, had to modify the ad. The complaint against the ad alleged that “any individual inspired by the advertisement, if attempts to perform such daredevil acts/feat, there is a very likelihood that he will loose his life/limb and therefore the advertisement should be prohibited.” The council found that it was against ASCI’s guidelines on advertisements for automotive vehicles.
Other companies that had to either withdraw or modify their advertisements include Henkel India Ltd (Mr White), Eureka Forbes Ltd (Aquaguard), Bajaj Auto Ltd (Bajaj Pulsar), VLCC Personal Care Ltd (Shape Up Anti Cellulite Oil and Gel), Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (Zen Estilo), Novartis India Ltd (Calcium Sandoz Soft Chew) and Tata Teleservices Maharashtra Ltd (Plug to surf USB Modem).