Advertising sector watchdog ASCI upheld complaints against 344 misleading advertisements, including those of Dabur India, ITC, Parle, Amul, Nestle, Gujarat Co-Operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), for August and September.
ASCI investigated complaints against 564 advertisements of which 179 advertisements were promptly withdrawn by the advertisers on receipt of communication from ASCI.
The independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI evaluated 385 advertisements, of which complaints against 344 advertisements were upheld. Of these 344 advertisements, 259 belonged to the education sector, 50 belonged to the healthcare sector, eight to personal care, eight to the food & beverages sector, and 19 were from the ‘others’ category.
There were several prominent brands in the food and beverage sector making comparative claims regarding the product composition, taste preferences, health benefits or market leadership.
According to the ASCI report, many of the claims were not adequately substantiated. The CCC also considered the comparisons to be unfairly denigrating the entire category in which the advertiser brands were competing in.
ASCI pulled up GCMMF (Amul), Nestle India, Parle Ltd advertisements and found them to be misleading.
Gujarat Co-Operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) Amul Butter Cookies presented their butter cookies to be superior due to presence of 25 percent butter and zero percent vegetable oil.
However, they made a sweeping statement that “other” butter cookies contain only 0.3 percent to 3 percent butter and 20 percent to 22 percent vegetable oil without presenting any verifiable evidence.
ASCI pulled up Nestle India Ltd for advertisement of Maggi Nutrilicious New Masala Oats and Maggi Nutrilicious New Masala Veg Atta. The advertisement did not clearly indicate whether the noodles are "Fried" or "Non-Fried".
This was considered to be a violation of FSSAI Regulation, 2011 which states that “instant noodle product shall be presented as ‘Fried Noodles or Non-Fried Noodles’. The information needs to be “presented” as required by the FSSAI within the advertisement - regardless of where it appears (i.e. on pack, digital advertisement, YouTube advertisement).
ASCI also found that Parle Products Limited (Parle Happy Happy Biscuits)- The back panel of product pack claims “Net Weight: 60g + 20g* Extra = 80g with MRP Rs.10.00”, and front panel of pack claims “33%* extra”.
Though offer claiming "33 percent extra" on 60g pack was not considered objectionable, its presentation on pack was misleading by omission as it does not mention the basis of comparison alongside the offer claim, in font size equal to or more than 25 percent of the font size of "33 percent extra" claim.
Similarly ASCI pulled up Dabur India Ltd for their product Odomos Fabric Roll- The product packaging claim, “Just four Dots on Your Clothes, Mosquitoes Won’t Come Close” when seen in conjunction with the visual of the girl surrounded by a blue bubble with no mosquitoes inside and several outside, giving an impression of 100 percent protection was inadequately substantiated.
The product provides only a moderate degree of repellency (4 -40 percent, which is less than half). On the claim of the safety of the product, the CCC observed that the advertiser did not provide any test report of safety for the product when in proximity to human skin.
ASCI also found ITC Ltd (Fiama Scents Bodywash) print advertisement’s claim, “with just a simple touch anytime, anywhere", was inadequately substantiated and was misleading by ambiguity.
The test data provided, was not adequate to conclusively prove that a forearm lab test on a small number of panel members can be extrapolated to a “real life” bathing, towel drying and post bathing situation to adequately substantiate “capsule deposition all over the body and (fragrance capsules) bursting on touch over a period of 8 hours on dry skin”.
"Recently, as per media reports, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a statement that the advertisers must desist from making misleading claims and that the food companies could be liable to pay a fine of up to Rs 10 lakhs. Consequences of misleading advertising are grave, not only for the public but also for advertisers as it damages their reputation and breaks consumers' trust in their products. ASCI encourages advertisers to follow the ASCI Code for self-regulation in advertising and Guidelines for Food and Beverages sector in particular so that all stakeholder interests are taken care of," said Rohit Gupta, Chairman, ASCI.