New Delhi: Advertising industry watchdog Advertising Standards Council of India’s (ASCI) consumer complaint council (CCC) upheld complaints against 152 out of 209 advertisements in August this year.
The report mentions ads from some of the big firms across sectors.
Out of ads against which complaints were upheld, 66 belonged to the education category, 27 to the healthcare, 17 to the food and beverage and 10 to personal care products followed by five to clothing and accessories and 27 to other categories.
In the personal care category, three of the ad campaigns for Hindustan Unilever Ltd-owned brands were found misleading. The popular beauty soap brand Dove’s television spot claims that it is milder than other soaps and shows a litmus paper test. The paper turns blue in all cases except Dove which, ASCI states, is not substantiated adequately.
HUL’s shampoo brand Clear Ice Cool Menthol variant’s Kannada ad claims to ‘keep you fresh for 24 hours’ which is not substantiated adequately and is misleading in the absence of any criteria of comparison. Pond’s Men Pollution Control Face Wash claims in the advertisement to provide ‘1000X absorption power’ which the watchdog found misleading since there is no mention of the basis of comparison.
“As a responsible marketer and member of ASCI, we have always complied with ASCI guidelines and recommendations. We acknowledge receipt of aforementioned recommendations from ASCI and we have amended our advertisements in line with those recommendations,” said a HUL spokesperson.
Apart from HUL brands, other ads that were found to be misleading in the category include those for Biotique (bio kelp shampoo) and Vini Cosmetics Ltd (white tone powder) and Leeford Healthcare Ltd (Meglow fairness cream for men and women).
In the healthcare category, Cadila Healthcare Ltd. which owns nutritional health drink for adults Zydus Acti Life, has been rapped for claims that the drink controls and reduces cholesterol. The watchdog stated that these claims were not substantiated.
Beverages and snacks firm PepsiCo India has been hauled up for its juice brand Tropicana’s Litchi Delight product packaging in the food and beverages category. ASCI stated that the name of the variant ‘Litchi Delight’ as well as the packaging which shows a dominant image of Litchi does not match the ingredient list.
The fruit juice pack mentions a higher percentage of concentrated apple juice (3.2%) than litchi pulp (1.8%), which misleads the consumer. According to the rules, the claims in advertisements should not be inconsistent with information on the label or packaging of the food or beverage.
ITC Ltd’s flour brand Aashirvaad was also included in the list. The brand’s sugar release control atta variant’s television commercial claims that the natural grain mix in the atta ensures that the sugar levels do not rise suddenly. It is likely that the consumers would be misled into believing that the low Glycemic Index (GI) atta would have curative effect on sugar release of other high GI food that is ingested as well, the advertising watchdog found. Also, the claim, ‘Eat rotis without worrying about sugar levels’, is misleading by ambiguity as rotis cannot be eaten by diabetics in excess.
In the others category, Tata Sky Ltd was hauled up for a semi-annual plan on its website but offering it only for 180 days instead of 182. “The disclaimer on the Tata Sky website already states the definition of Semi-annual pack as 182 days, monthly as 30 days and annual as 365 days,” said the company’s spokesperson in an email response.
Apart from Tata Sky, the other brands in this category included SpiceJet, State Bank of India, TimesJobs.com, Air Asia India, Videocon Industries Ltd. (Titanium refrigerators and air conditioners) and ICICI Bank Ltd.
“The compliance rate from the advertiser has been high. Almost 80 to 90% of them comply with the codes and the same holds true for the August report as well. As far as consumers are concerned, ASCI make sure to take swift action as soon as we receive a complaint which reassures their faith in us,” said Shweta Purandare, secretary general, ASCI.