Home / Industry / Advertising /  ASCI launches consumer initiative to fight misleading ads

NEW DELHI: The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) will launch an integrated consumer connect initiative to raise awareness about misleading advertisements, titled 'Chup mat baitho' (don't sit quietly).

The advertising watchdog's digital campaign will have posts on social media sites about relevant topics and a call to action, urging consumers to report advertisements that are offensive, misleading, and also tell them how to go about it.

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The campaign is inspired from ASCI’s Trust in Advertising Report 2020 findings which said only 10% of consumers who come across misleading advertisements report them.

"We are trying to reach out consumers between 25 and 50 years of age across digital platforms including financial, advertising and tech websites in Mumbai and Delhi. Depending on the response we get, we will further build it up on mainstream media as well," said Subhash Kamath, chairman, ASCI.

The regulator is currently working a set of guidelines to effectively track new media platforms, such as over-the-top (OTT) video streaming, digital, and social media platforms for misleading ads. It has created a special taskforce that is looking at new media platforms and effective ways to oversee, influence and guide advertisers while protecting consumer interests.

"Ten years ago, ASCI processes were mostly restricted to television, print and outdoor. With social media, influencers and digital marketing becoming big, our focus has been to track this emerging space as well...We can't just be focussed on television and print but must also look at the whole digital ecosystem," Kamath said.

These guidelines will help regulate categories, such as liquor, which have seen online promotions despite being prohibited to advertise in mainstream media. In November, the regulator had taken suo-motu cognizance of 14 ads, which were run on OTT platforms and 12 were restricted from being aired.

Digital advertising, including on streaming platforms, social media, digital news sites, and gaming, is expected to touch 22,300 crore in FY21, according to a September report by KPMG. While advertising revenues in the digital space were hit in 2020 because of the covid-19 pandemic, the medium is expected to overtake TV ads in FY21, the report had added.

ASCI also said that it is actively working with government to protect consumer interests, and seeks to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Department of Consumer Affairs, I&B Ministry, AYUSH Ministry and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), for the same.

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