Advertising sector watchdog Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) investigated complaints against 208 advertisements in June, of which 179 were regarding misleading claims including those of Reliance Jio, SpiceJet, PepsiCo India, and Hindustan Unilever, among others. It noted that out of the 208 advertisements, the advertisers promptly ensured corrective action in 63 of them as soon as the complaints were received.
The consumer complaints council (CCC) of ASCI upheld 89 advertisements from a total of 145 evaluated by them. Amongst the 89 advertisements which it held misleading, 25 belonged to the healthcare category, 27 to education, 15 to food and beverages, five to personal care and 17 were from other categories, it said in a statement.
ASCI upheld the complaint against two ads by PepsiCo India's Quaker Oats finding them misleading by ambiguity and omission of the direct reference of comparison in the voice over itself. It said that the ads said 'Quaker Oats me hai 2x more protein and fibre' was qualified with a disclaimer 'per serve comparison with cornflakes'. Reference: Atlas of Indian Foods', which was not legible and not as per ASCI guidelines on disclaimers (font size, contrast, hold duration).
"The advertisement's claim 'two times more protein' was misleading by ambiguity and implication and the commercial under reference contravened ASCI's guidelines for celebrities in advertising," it said. The watchdog pulled up SpiceJet for the visual of a man inserting loose wires into a power socket and getting an electric shock, and also shown repeating this act again, which it termed as an unsafe and a dangerous practice that manifests a disregard for safety and encourages negligence.
ASCI also considered Hindustan Unilever's Lifebuoy soap advertisement to be misleading by ambiguity and implication. "The television advertisement when seen in totality creates an impression that Lifebuoy is recommended by doctors... In view of the Code of Medical Ethics prohibiting doctors from endorsing any product and in absence of any market research data indicating that medical professionals in general recommend the advertised product, such visual presentation was considered to be misleading by ambiguity and implication," it said.
It also upheld the complaint against Kraft Heinz India's Complan advertisement claim that 'only one cup of Complan has protein equivalent to one egg and other health drinks provide protein equivalent to half egg only', as they were not substantiated and was considered to be misleading by ambiguity and exaggeration as well as in contravention of the ASCI guidelines on disclaimers.
The regulator also noted that PepsiCo India's New Tropicana Essentials-Fruits and Veggies advertisement did not provide any supporting evidence to show that Tropicana Essentials was a 'new' product at the time of publishing the advertisement and found the claim to be misleading. ASCI also pulled up Reliance Jio Infocomm advertisement's claims of offering the best network and being the world's largest mobile data network for misleading by ambiguity and implication as they refer to only consumption of data and not the extent and infrastructure of network.
Similarly, it found Myntra advertisement's claim, 'here's Rs 300 on us', as misleading by ambiguity and omission that the offer is only on select products, and that the offer is subject to terms and conditions. It added that the advertiser did not provide the terms and conditions of the offer nor a link showing the same which would have informed the customer about the conditions.
The regulator also noted that in Yatra.com's advertisement, the claim offer related to the fare type 'refundable' was misleading by ambiguity regarding the extent and conditions of the refund, and by omission of a qualifier to mention that it is subject to terms and conditions. It also found Rasna's advertisement claim, 'natural fruit energy', was inadequately substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity and implication about the fruit content in the product. "The visual of celebrity Kareena Kapoor when seen in conjunction with the claim is likely to mislead consumers regarding the nature of product benefit and contravened the guidelines for celebrities in advertising," it said.