Report: ASCI investigated complaints against 279 ads in February 2020


ASCI upheld complaints against 171 advertisements out of 178. 101 other advertisements promptly withdrawn post ASCI intervention.

During the month of February 2020, ASCI investigated complaints against 279 advertisements, of which 101 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers on receipt of communication from ASCI. The independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI evaluated the remaining 178 advertisements, of which complaints against 171 advertisements were upheld. Of these 171 advertisements, 77 belonged to the education sector, 59 belonged to the healthcare sector, six to real estate, five to visa/immigration services, five to personal care, four to the food & beverages sector, and 15 were from the ‘others’ category.

ASCI continues to see advertisements featuring celebrities falling short of adhering to “Guidelines for Celebrities in advertising”. Amongst the various advertisements that were scrutinized, CCC pulled up a misleading advertisement of a “gamified school education” app claiming it to be the biggest scholarship exam, and promising prize money worth up to Rs One Crore, featuring one of Bollywood’s legendary actor. An advertisement of herbal drops endorsed by a Bollywood celebrity made a misleading claim that it can save or protect from diseases by immunity enhancement. A fertility clinic was found to mislead their patients claiming it to be “India’s Largest and Most Successful IVF and Fertility Chain” while co-promoting a movie with the “IVF procedure mix up” theme, featuring four top Bollywood celebrities. Advertisement of a honey brand endorsed by an Olympic Badminton player made unsubstantiated claims like “Strengthen bones” and “Muscle redevelopment”.

A popular auto company, in a TV advertisement, depicted a pillion riding barber shaving the rider on a running motorcycle. It showed a dangerous act with disregard for safety and challenged safe driving requirements. The advertisement contravened ASCI’s Guidelines for Advertisements depicting Automotive Vehicles.

ASCI also saw several Real estate companies making superlative / leadership claims. A few of them were especially focused on providing senior living communities and townships. One well-known brand while promoting its township project for seniors, made unsubstantiated claims of being “India’s Largest Senior-Living Community”.

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ASCI also processed complaints against several advertisements which guaranteed “100% Visa”, “100% Visa Success Ratio”, “No.1 Visa Company” either for work or education in countries which had stringent documentation mandates. Such misleading claims were likely to lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of students and job seekers.

The CCC upheld multiple complaints pertaining to advertisements from healthcare as well as the educational sector wherein the advertisers claimed to have leadership positions or boasted about the awards they have won but failed to substantiate it with authentic and credible supporting ranking data or awards data. Shweta Purandare, ASCI Secretary-General said “Our guidelines for Usage of Awards/ Rankings in Advertisements that were introduced in January 2020, are proving to be a timely step in the right direction. We are educating the advertisers that self-sponsored awards and rankings are on thin ice and will not hold anymore. They need to know the rigor expected in claim substantiation when referring to awards and rankings in their advertisements”.

Direct Complaints

The advertisements given below were complained against by the general public or by industry members. Of the 25 advertisements complained against, 12 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertiser on receiving communication from ASCI. For the remaining 13 advertisements, complaints against six advertisements were upheld by the CCC. All six advertisements belonged to the ‘Others’ category. Seven advertisements were not considered to be objectionable or in contravention of the ASCI Code.


Times Network Ltd (ET Now): The television and social media advertisements claiming “ET Now 75% CNBC TV18 25%”, were misleading as well as it was in contravention of the BARC Guidelines. As per BARC Guidelines, viewership may only be shown in impressions ‘000s or viewing minutes. Use of rating percentage is not permitted. The advertiser did not include the budget day in making claims regarding budget week as they submitted only Monday to Friday data whereas the Budget was presented on the following Saturday. Furthermore, the complainant presented BARC reporting weeks 4 and 5 data for the same target audience to disprove the leadership claim. The other claims “ET Now #1 in Budget Week” and “ET Now# 1 During Year’s Most Important Week” were also considered to misleading. The disclaimers in the TV promo were in contravention of the ASCI Guidelines on Disclaimers for their placement not being in sync with the claims and their hold duration was inadequate. The TV promos as well as Social Media promotions were in contravention of BARC advisory as well as ASCI Guidelines on Disclaimers.

Malayala Manorama Company Ltd (Manoramaonline): The Ad-Emailer’s claim, “The No. 1 Malayalam News site”, was not substantiated. The CCC observed that the advertiser conveys in the advertisement that they have about 164 million total views in Malayalam alone as compared to their closest competition who has about 131 million total views in Malayalam and other languages. The advertisement indicates the source of the claim – Comscore MMX Multi-Platform Key Measures, Total Views, October 2019, India. The CCC noted that the advertiser has used an arithmetic manipulation to come up with a superiority figure which is a false representation. Further, there is no evidence provided by the advertiser to substantiate ComScore as the source of support.

View the full report below.



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