Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and the Code of the Advertising Standards

Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI)

The Role and Functioning of the ASCI & its Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) in dealing with Complaints received from Consumers and Industry, against Ads which are considered as False, Misleading, Indecent, Illegal, leading to Unsafe practices, or Unfair to competition, and consequently in contravention of the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising. The ASCI is not a Government body,but it is a voluntary self-regulatory council, registered as a not-for-profit Company under section 25 of the Indian Companies Act. The sponsors of the ASCI, who are its principal members, are firms of considerable repute within Industry in India, and comprise Advertisers, Media, and Ad Agencies and other Professional /Ancillary services connected with advertising practice. The ASCI was set up;

  • To ensure the truthfulness and honesty of representations and claims made by advertisements and to safeguard against misleading advertisements.
  • To ensure that advertisements are not offensive to generally accepted standards of public decency.
  • To safeguard against the indiscriminate use of advertising for the promotion of products which are regarded as hazardous to society or to individuals to a degree or of a type which is unacceptable to society at large.
  • To ensure that advertisements observe fairness in competition so that the consumer’s need to be informed on choices in the market-place and the canons of generally accepted competitive behaviour in business are both served.

Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI)

Mission of ASCI

ASCI has one overarching goal: “To maintain and enhance the public’s confidence in advertising”.

  • ASCI seeks to ensure that advertisements conform to its Code for Self-Regulation which requires advertisements to be truthful and fair to consumers and competitors.
  • Within the bounds of generally accepted standards of public decency and propriety.
  • Not used indiscriminately for the promotion of products, hazardous or harmful to society or to individuals, particularly minors, to a degree unacceptable to society at large.

Objectives of ASCI

  • To monitor ,administer and promote standards of advertising practices in India
  • To codify, adopt and modify the code of advertising practices in India and implement, administer and promote and publicize such a code.
  • To give wide publicity to the Code and seek adherence to it of as many as possible of those engaged in advertising.
  • To print and publish pamphlets, leaflets, circulars or other literature or material, that may be considered desirable for the promotion of or carrying out of the objects of the Company.

Code of the Advertising Standards by ASCI

Chapter I

To Ensure the Truthfulness and Honesty of representations and claims made by Advertisements and to safeguard against misleading Advertisements.

  • Advertisements must be truthful. All descriptions, claims and comparisons, which are related to matters of objectively ascertainable fact, should be capable of substantiation. Advertisers and advertising agencies are required to produce such substantiation as and when called upon to do so by the Advertising Standards Council of India.
  • Where advertising claims are expressly stated to be based on, or supported by independent research or assessment, the source and date of this should be indicated in the advertisement.
  • Advertisements should not contain any reference to any person, firm or institution without due permission, nor should a picture of any generally identifiable person be used in advertising without due permission.
  • Advertisements shall not distort facts nor mislead the consumer by means of implications or omissions. Advertisements shall not contain statements or visual presentations, which directly or by implication or by omission or by ambiguity or by exaggeration are likely to mislead the consumer about the product advertised or the advertiser or about any other product or advertiser.
  • Advertisements shall not be so framed as to abuse the trust of consumers or exploit their lack of experience or knowledge. No advertisement shall be permitted to contain any claim so exaggerated as to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers. For example:
    1. Products shall not be described as ‘free’ where there is any direct cost to the consumer other than the actual cost of any delivery, freight or postage. Where such cost are payable by the consumer, a clear statement that this is the case shall be made in the advertisement.
    2. Where a claim is made that if one product is purchased another product will be provided ‘free’, the advertiser is required to show as and when called upon by The Advertising Standards Council of India that the price paid by the consumer for the product which is offered for purchase with the advertised incentive.
    3. Claims, which use expressions such as ‘upto five years guranttee’ or ‘prices from as low as Y’, are not acceptable if there is a likelihood of the consumer being misled either as to the extent of the availability or as to the applicability of the benefits offered.
    4. Special care and restraint has to be exercised in advertisements addressed to those suffering from weakness, any real or perceived inadequacy of any physical attributes such as height or bust development, obesity, illness, importance, infertility, baldness and the like to ensure that claims or representations, directly or by implications, do not exceed what is considered prudent by generally accepted standards or medical practice and the actual efficacy of the product.
    5. Advertisements inviting the public to invest money shall not contain statements which may mislead the consumer in respect of the security offered, rates, of return or terms of amortization, where any of the foregoing elements are contingent upon the continuance of or change in existing conditions, or any other assumptions, such conditions or assumptions must be clearly indicated in the advertisements.
    6. Advertisements inviting the public to take part in lotteries or price competitions permitted under the law or which hold out the prospects of gifts shall state clearly all-material conditions so as to enable the consumers to obtain a true and fair view of their prospects in such activity. Further, such advertisers shall make adequate provision for the judging of such competitions, announcement of the results and the fair distribution of prizes and gifts according to the advertised terms and conditions within a reasonable period of time. With regard to the announcement of results, it is clarified that the advertiser’s responsibility under this, section of the Code is discharged adequately if the advertiser publicizes the main results in the media used to announce the competition as far as is practicable, and advises the individual winners by post.
  • Obvious untruths or exaggerations intended to amuse or to catch the eye of the consumer are permissible. Provided that they are clearly to be seen as humorous or hyperbolic and not likely to be understood as making literal or misleading claims for the advertised product.

Chapter II

To ensure that Advertisements are not offensive to generally accepted standards of Public Decency. Advertisements should contain nothing indecent, vulgar or repulsive, which is likely, on the light of generally prevailing standards of decency and property, to cause grave or widespread offence.

Chapter III

To Safeguard against the indiscriminate use of Advertising in situations or for the promotion of products, which are regarded as Hazardous to society or the Individuals to a degree, or of a type, which is Unacceptable to Society at large.

  • No advertisement shall be permitted which:
    1. Tends to incite people to crime or to promote disorder and violence or intolerance
    2. Derides any race, caste, color, creed or nationality
    3. Presents criminality as desirable or directly or indirectly encourages people particularly children to emulate it or conveys the modus operandi of any time
    4. Adversely affects friendly relations with a foreign state.
  • Advertisements addressed to children shall not contain anything, whether in illustration or otherwise, which might result in their physical, mental or moral harm or which exploits their vulnerability. For example, no advertisement
    1. Shall encourage children to enter strange places or to converse with strangers in an effort to collect coupons, wrappers, labels or the like.
    2. Should depict children leaning dangerously outside windows, over bridges or climbing dangerous cliffs and the like.
    3. Should show children climbing or reaching dangerously to reach products or for any other purpose.
    4. Should show children using or playing with matches or any inflammable or explosive substance, or playing with or using sharp knives, guns or mechanical or electrical appliances, the careless use of which could lead to their suffering cuts, burns, shocks or other injury.
    5. Advertisements shall not, without justifiable reason, show or refer to dangerous practices or manifest a disregard for safety or encourage negligence.
  • Advertisements should contain nothing, which is in breach of the law, or omit anything which the law requires
  • Advertisements shall not propagate products, the use of which is banned under the law

Chapter IV

To ensure that advertisements observe Fairness in Competition such that the Consumer’s need to be informed on choices in the market place and the canons of generally accepted competitive behavior in Business is both served.

  • Advertisements containing comparisons with other manufacturers or suppliers or with other products, including those where a competitor is named are permissible in the interests of vigorous competition and public enlightenment, provided:
    1. It is clear that aspects of the advertiser’s product are being compared with what aspects of the competitor’s product.
    2. The subject matter of comparison is not chosen in such a way as to confer an artificial advantage upon the advertiser or so as to suggest that a better bargain is offered than is truly the case
    3. The comparisons are factual, accurate and capable of substantiation
    4. There is no likelihood of the consumer being misled as a result of the comparison, whether about the product advertiser or that with which it is compared
    5. The advertisement does not unfairly denigrate, attack or discredit other products, advertisers of advertisements directly or by implication.
  • Advertisements shall not make unjustifiable use of the name or initials of any other firm, company or institution, nor take unfair advantage of the goodwill attached to the trademark or symbol of another firm or its product or the goodwill acquired by its advertising campaign.
  • Advertisements shall not be so similar to other advertisements in general layouts, copy, slogans, visual presentations, music or sound effects as to be likely to mislead or confuse consumers.

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