During February 2019, ASCI CCC investigated complaints against 243 advertisements, of which the advertisers ensured corrective action for 63 advertisements once they received the complaints from ASCI. The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI upheld complaints against 145 advertisements out of 180 advertisements evaluated by them. Of these 145 advertisements, 83 belonged to the healthcare sector, 33 to the education sector, ten to the food & beverages sector, one to personal care, and 18 were from the ‘others’ category
Amongst various advertisements that were examined, a significant number of advertisements were upheld for exaggeration of product efficacy and exploiting consumers’ lack of knowledge. This was followed by violations of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act (DMR Act). A large number of these advertisements were digital i.e. advertisers’ own web-sites carrying the objectionable claims and visuals.
For the Food and Beverages sector, the CCC found a couple of well-known brands referring to Ayurvedic or herbal ingredients known for their memory enhancing properties; however, the associated claims were not substantiated. A popular cooking oil was making claims regarding the oil being “Lite” and “Less absorbent” without any robust technical support data. An A-2 cow milk brand was projecting its products to have some unique immunity benefits or miraculous effects that were not substantiated by any scientific rationale or clinical evidence. Additionally, a couple of brands were making improper use of the FSSAI logo implying that the product has been tested/approved/endorsed by FSSAI. This was also in violation of the FSSAI advisory against such use which is not in the prescribed format.
Shweta Purandare, Secretary General, ASCI said, “Over the last one year, in the Food and Beverage sector alone, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council examined over 300 advertisements for misleading claims.”
“This was a result of the co-regulation model under which FSSAI had given ASCI a mandate for comprehensive Suo Motu surveillance of potentially misleading advertisements in print media and television,” Purandare said.
“Such arrangement provides a win-win for stakeholders wherein self-regulatory organizations ensure a better advertising ecosystem and the regulators can intervene only when necessary, thus bringing synergies in efficiency,” she added.
- Sahajanand Life Sciences Pvt. Ltd. (JointAid Oil and JointAid Spray): The advertisement’s claim, “Trusted by Doctors, Physiotherapists and Lakhs of families” is misleading by implication that the medical community of doctors and physiotherapists are recommending the product. The second claim, “100% Natural” for JointAid Spray is false and misleading by ambiguity. Additionally, the claim, “Developed by DR” when seen in conjunction with the visual of a stethoscope, was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity and implication, and is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
- Lord Dhanvantari Ayurvedic Hospital:The advertisement (in Hindi), claiming cure of knee pain and joint pain by showing similar testimonials and same X-ray reports for two separate individual patients and claiming progress on first day of treatment, and treatment after three and six months. These claims were not substantiated with supporting clinical evidence and are misleading by gross exaggeration and exploit consumers’ lack of knowledge and are likely to lead to grave widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
Food and Beverage
- Parle Products Pvt. Ltd (Parle Magix Biscuit): The advertisement (TVC) shows a kid dressed in the police uniform pulling the trigger and firing a bullet (through an audio cue) at the shopkeeper saying in angry tone “Koi bhi cream biscuit Magix ki jagah chipkaoge”. The humorous TVC, though not objectionable, manifests a dangerous practice, exploits the vulnerability of minors and more importantly encourages minors to emulate the modus operandi of any crime.
- Gujarat Co-Operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (Amul Memory Milk-Tropical Fruit): The advertisement’s claims “Milk with goodness of Ayurveda” and “Contains various Ayurvedic herbs that are traditionally known to boost memory”, were not substantiated as the advertiser did not provide data of any scientific rationale or published literature references to support the claimed benefits. The claims are misleading by exaggeration.
- Catapult Classes: The advertisement’s claims, “CAT 2019 and 2018 Toppers”, and “Maximum 99+ Percentilers in Lucknow are from CaTaPult” with photographs of students and their secured percentile were not substantiated with supporting evidence. The claim (in Hindi), “IIM jaana hai toh CATaPult aana hai” and “Sure shot entry into IIMs” (If you want to go to IIM then you must come to CATapult), were not substantiated with supporting evidence of their students who were successfully admitted in IIMs across the country. The claims are misleading by exaggeration and are likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
- MARICO LTD – True Roots Botanical Hair Tonic: In the advertisement, celebrity Radhika Apte was featured endorsing the product with claims like ““Stop new grey hair”, “Jo naye safed balon ka aana roke, jad se”, “True roots ke 100 % natural extracts balonke jadonme jakar melanin bhadaye. 90 days tak regularly lagayen taki safed balon ka aana band ho jaye”, “Safed baalon ka jaldi aana jad se rokiye, with TRUEROOTS.”, “No New Greys in 90 days, get rid of premature grey hairs from the root”. These claims were not adequately substantiated. While the product may cause darkening of grey hair by virtue of Kesh Ranjak ingredients the claims were found to be misleading by ambiguity and implication. The graphic in the advertisement (TVC) and on the pack depicting grey hair turning black was considered to be a misrepresentation of actual product action. The advertisements were in violation of the ASCI Guidelines for Celebrities in advertising and ASCI Guidelines for disclaimers in advertising as the disclaimers in the TVC / YouTube advertisements were not in the same language as that of the voice over (Hindi).
- One97 Communications Ltd. (PayTM):The advertisement claimed, “Win upto Rs 100 crores of Gold. No KYC Needed. Assured Gold Back on First Transfer”. The claim of “No KYC Needed” is misleading by omission and ambiguity. The second claim “UPI money transfers on PAYTM – Win up to rupees 100 crores of Gold” was not substantiated as the advertiser did not provide evidence of the customers who have benefitted by the said offer, nor any details regarding the modality of the offer. The claim is misleading by omission that the offer is subject to terms and conditions and is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
- One97 Communications Ltd. (PayTM):The advertisement’s claim on their website “Rupees 50,000 redeemable on purchase of diamond precious jewellery with diamond jewellery voucher worth rupees 50,000” was misleading by omission of additional terms and conditions of cashback offer. The CCC was of the opinion that the said terms and conditions should have been stated upfront in the advertisement. The website advertisement is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
- Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India P. Ltd (Honda):The advertisement’s claim (in Tamil) , “0% interest”, was misleading by omission and failed to mention that the offer was subject to 50% payment on purchase of the vehicle. The claim is likely to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.
- Vivo Mobile India Pvt. Ltd. (Vivo V11 Pro):The advertisement’s the claim, “Dual Rear Camera with Dual Pixel Technology”, was not substantiated, and misleading by exaggeration. The advertiser did not provide any technical data or test reports for Vivo V11 Pro having feature of dual rear camera with good picture quality.
SUO MOTU Surveillance by ASCI FOR MISLEADING ADVERTISEMENTS
- Bhodhayan Coaching:The advertisement’s claim, “Institute providing highest selections”, was not substantiated with a comparative study of this coaching institute and others to prove that it provides highest selections, the claim is misleading by exaggeration.
- Vidyapeeth Defence & Sports Academy:The advertisement’s claim, “Only academy of Haryana which has given highest selection”, was not substantiated. The claim, “Fees returned, if no job given”, was not substantiated with supporting evidence of jobs provided to each and every student or the students who were not selected for jobs in defence forces and sports sector, were refunded with full paid fees. The claims are misleading by exaggeration.
- Bharat Vikas Parishad Hospital & Research Centre: The advertisement’s claim, “Highest record of 50 successful heart surgeries in one month than any other hospital in Kota” was found to be misleading by exaggeration as the advertiser did not provide any supporting data in terms of a comparison study with other heart care centres in Kota to prove that they have achieved highest record of 50 successful heart surgeries.
- Sadana Fracture Centre:The advertisement’s claim, “Sthayi Dard Nivaran Kendra”, (“Permanent Pain Relief Centre”) is a superlative claim that was not substantiated, and is misleading by implication that knee replacement would not be necessary. Furthermore, the advertiser did not provide any details of the treatment procedure for knee pain, nor any details of the medicines, and their approval status by the regulatory authorities.
Food and Beverage
- Arputham Aqua (Arputham Aqua Mineral Water): The print advertisement shows an FSSAI logo in a non-standard format, implying that the product has been tested/approved/endorsed by FSSAI. The symbol of FSSAI logo in the advertisement did not contain their License number on the principal display panel in the format as suggested in the FSSAI advisory. The improper use of FSSAI logo was misleading by implication that the product has been tested/approved/endorsed by FSSAI, and was also in violation of the FSSAI advisory.
- Amour Nutrition Ultra-Premium 100% Whey Protein-Chocolate (Nature Identical Flavors):The advertisement shows an FSSAI logo in a non-standard format, implying that the product has been tested/approved/endorsed by FSSAI. The symbol of FSSAI logo in the advertisement did not contain their License number on the principal display panel in the format as suggested in the FSSAI Advisory. The improper use of FSSAI logo was misleading by implication.
- Voltas Limited (Refrigerator): The advertisement’s claim, “Vegetables remain Fresh even after 30 days” was inadequately substantiated, and is misleading by exaggeration. Additionally, the hold duration of the disclaimers in the TVC contravened Clause 4 (X) of ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers.
- Malayala Manorama Co. Ltd (Quickerala.com): The advertisement’s claims, Kerala’s Largest Online Business Directory”, “Kerala’s Largest Business/Service Search Website”, and “Kerala’s Largest Business listing website”, were not substantiated with any verifiable comparative data of the advertiser’s online business directory with that of other online business directories in Kerala, to prove that they are larger than the rest, in providing online business directory services. The claims are misleading by exaggeration.
- TCL Communication (BlackBerry Key 2/BlackBerry Evolve):The advertisement’s claim, “Most secure android smart phone”, was not substantiated with comparative data to prove that the advertiser’s smart phone was more secure or reliable to use than any other android smart phone brands, or through any third-party validation. The claim is misleading by exaggeration.