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Hindustan Unilever, Tata Chemicals, ITC under fire for misleading advertisements

The latest report of the Advertising Standards Council of India has upheld complaints against 116 out of 165 advertisements across segments such as personal care, healthcare and food and beverages.

Mail Today Bureau   New Delhi     Last Updated: October 17, 2017  | 10:49 IST
Hindustan Unilever, Tata Chemicals, ITC under fire for misleading advertisements

Leading brands such as Hindustan Unilever Ltd, Tata Chemicals and ITC figure on the ad watchdog's list of companies that have been flashing misleading advertisements to promote their products. The latest report of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has upheld complaints against 116 out of 165 advertisements across segments such as personal care, healthcare and food and beverages.

The report released on Monday concludes that the claim in the ad of Hindustan Unilever : "Pink pearls from Korea that gives inner fairness and Japanese green tea for pimple clear skin," was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity and implication that the benefits being provided by the product are due to these two natural ingredients.

In the Tata Chemicals Ltd advertisement pertaining to "Tata Nx Zero Sugar'' the consumer complaints council of the ASCI opined that the term "Zero Sugar", when read in conjunction with the claim "Beneficial sugar for people with Diabetes", is contradictory and misleading by ambiguity and implication. Though the advertiser claims "zero sugar" in the advertisement, the advertiser's own communication on their website etc. presents their product as a "low-calorie sugar".

Also the advertisement's claim, "low calorie sweetener" may hold true for the product, the claim, "lactose is a low calorie sweetener", was misleading by ambiguity as by the advertiser's own submission, lactose is only an excipient in the product, the main active being Stevia.

In the case of an advertisement put out by Colgate-Palmolive (India) Ltd on Colgate Active Salt, it was concluded that the font size of the disclaimers in the advertisement measures was less than 12 pixels, and hence the advertisement violated the rule of ASCI guidelines for disclaimers which states that "for standard definition images, the height of the text lower case elements shall be not less than 12 pixels [12 lines] in a 576 line raster.

In the case of ITC Limited the ASCI has found fault with the ad on Classmate Note Books. The advertisement's claim, "Classmate notebook par likhoge Toh teacher neatness Ke 2 extra marks degee", was misleading, since neatness is not connected to writing on a sheet of white paper and one can be neat even on an ordinary notebook paper.

Further, it was observed that the advertisement is targeted at children and it exploits their vulnerability. In the media space the list mentions Republic TV for its advertisement's claims that "BARC declares India's new leader", "Republic No.1 across all segments", "India's No. 1 channel with 43% of viewership", were not substantiated and are misleading by exaggeration.

Advertiser has referred to BARC data as a source for these claims. It was noted that as per "BARC India Ratings - Principles of Fair and Permissible Usage" the period of comparison for any claim of leadership should cover at least four consecutive weeks of data. However, as per the disclaimer put by the advertiser, the claims are based on one single week and not four consecutive weeks of data as per BARC guidelines. Therefore it is violative of BARC guidelines.

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