New Delhi: The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on Wednesday released a list of 87 complaints that were upheld against advertisers in August. Two big water purifier brands, among other health and personal care companies, were taken to task for making unsubstantiated claims in their advertisements.

Of the 117 advertisements which were scrutinised, 37 belonged to the personal and healthcare categories, followed by 41 in the education category.

The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of the ASCI found that the claims made in ads for health and personal care products or services were misleading, false or not adequately and scientifically substantiated. Some ads in the health care products and services segment breached the provisions of the Drug and Magic Remedies Act as well as the ASCI code.

The two water purifier brands that came under the ASCI scanner are those made by LG Electronics India Pvt. Ltd (LG Water Purifiers) and Hindustan Unilever Ltd (Pureit Ultima).

The ad for LG Water Purifiers said, “India’s only true water purifier"—a claim which is not adequately substantiated. In response, Rajeev Jain, vice-president (home appliances), LG India, said, “We have absolute faith in the superiority of our product and our clarification regarding the same has been submitted to ASCI".

LG’s water purifier uses highly advanced technology to ensure that the water is truly purified and remains pure till the time of consumption, he added.

ASCI also found HUL’s Pureit Ultima ad false and misleading. The ad said: “Pureit Ultima RO+UV (reverse osmosis plus ultraviolet). Sirf is mein hai Purity Indicator jo saaf saaf dikhata hai ki paani kitna pure hai (only this has a purity indicator). ASCI maintained that the print ad and the website that claim, “Pureit Ultima with Purity Indicator. Purity you can see!", was misleading by implication.

An HUL spokesperson said, “The claim referred to was successfully defended and the ad continues to run. To better inform the consumers, ASCI had asked (us) to add some additional information through disclaimers which has been done in compliance with the order."

ASCI also upheld the complaint against French personal care company L’Oreal India Pvt. Ltd for its L’Oreal Fall Repair shampoo ad. The claims in the advertisement, “Its triple action arginine nourishes hair from its roots, it reduces breakage, hair grows stronger" and “Save up to 2,000 hair strands", were inadequately substantiated and were misleading by ambiguity, ASCI said. L’Oreal did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

The Advertising Standards Council of India is a self-regulatory body of the advertising industry. It has been recognized under ‘The Cable Television Network Rules, 1994’ which states that “No advertisement which violates the Code for self-regulation in advertising, as adopted by the Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI), Mumbai, for public exhibition in India, from time to time, shall be carried in the cable service." ASCI is now the “executive arm" of the Department of Consumer Affairs handling all complaints pertaining to misleading advertisements.

In its current role, ASCI and its Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) deal with complaints received from the consumers and the industry, against advertisements which are considered false, misleading, indecent, illegal, leading to unsafe practices, or unfair to competition, and consequently in contravention of the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising.

The complaints upheld for the month of August feature a host of other healthcare brands including some in the ayurveda category.

“Advertisers are given time to respond to queries with additional data, and are given options to modify or discontinue advertisements as may be required. These are advertisements being aired in the month of August. Most of them have already been modified or discontinued as required," said Shweta Purandare, secretary general, ASCI, said.

Amazon Kindle was also ticked off for its advertisement claiming a price off of 1,000 for a product costing 5,999. However, the product that was shown in the ad cost 8,999. Although a disclaimer in fine print said that the “Device shown in image is 8999", ASCI found the ad still misleading. An Amazon spokesperson did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Meanwhile, beer maker Carlsberg India Ltd was also pulled up for surrogate advertising where it promoted Tuborg Zero, its non-alcoholic malt beverage. The advertiser did not provide the annual market sales data of the product advertised, thus the advertisement contravened Chapter III.6 (a) (b) of the ASCI Code and the Guidelines for Brand Extension product or service, the regulator said.