The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has said that it received 162 healthcare-related complaints in May, most of which were misleading campaigns claiming cure of novel Coronavirus.
The ASCI found 52 campaigns by Ayurveda and Homoeopathic practitioners with dubious claims on COVID-19 and the self-regulatory body notified those advertisers to withdraw such ads.
As national lockdown was enforced, several advertisers in healthcare made false claims about the disease cures and preventions. The AYUSH ministry had sought help from ASCI to alert them about such misleading advertisements. In the months of April and May, more than 100 such cases were flagged to the regulator.
On the impact of COVID-19 on the advertising industry in general and ASCI in particular, Rohit Gupta, Chairman of ASCI, said: “The past four months have been extremely challenging as we got familiar with virtual processes of monitoring advertisements and the functioning of the CCC. All teams are now well aligned to ensure smooth processing and timely action.”
Overall, ASCI’s Customer Complaints Council (CCC) evaluated 228 advertisements and complaints against 221 of those were upheld, it said that 162 belonged to the healthcare sector, 47 to education, 1 to food & beverages, 1 to personal care and 10 to ‘others’ category.
TV Today Network in Ad-Mailer claimed “The Network Of No.1s”, “Aaj Tak – No.1 Hindi News Channel” and “India Today Tv – No.1 English News Channel”. The CCC found that the claim of “India Today TV – No.1 English News Channel” did not follow BARC guidelines and it concluded that the titular claim, “The Network Of No.1s” were inadequately substantiated and contravened the BARC Advisory.
BRU Instant‘s advertisement claim, “Tea won’t give you that much energy” qualified with, “Creative Visualization. Use of 100 milk is recommended for making coffee. As per our recommended protocol, more milk in coffee gives more energy.” was not substantiated. ASCI said that the claim unfairly discredits tea, as an entire category and also violated ASCI Guidelines for Disclaimers.
Other major brands which have faced action during the month of May include Punjabi Matrimony (part of Bharat Matrimony), Honda, Kia Motors, Suzuki Motorcycle, Vodafone Idea, Swiggy and Colgate for various concerns.