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Crypto ads come under ASCI scrutiny a month after regulator's rollout of guidelines

To ensure that consumers who deal in virtual digital assets are fully aware of the risks and are not misled, ads must comply with the ASCI guidelines, the regulator had said while introducing the guidelines.

May 20, 2022 / 02:27 PM IST
(Representational image) In India too, cryptocurrency platforms are being heavily promoted by big Bollywood celebrities, sports stars and social media influencers.

(Representational image) In India too, cryptocurrency platforms are being heavily promoted by big Bollywood celebrities, sports stars and social media influencers.

A month after rolling out guidelines for virtual digital assets (VDAs) advertising, ad regulator Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has found some advertisers and influencers flouting the guidelines.

The guidelines which were introduced in late February this year came into effect in April.

"We have taken up four ads of crypto and 25 ads related to influencers on crypto products," Manisha Kapoor, Chief Executive Officer and Secretary General, ASCI, told Moneycontrol.

The ad body in its guidelines has asked VDA advertisers and brands to prominently carry a disclaimer saying, “Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions.”

In case of non-compliance, ASCI can recommend corrections in the ads and for companies which fall under the Cable Act, the ad regulator can prohibit the broadcast of ads by such firms.

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According to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, no advertisement violating the ASCI Code shall be carried in the cable service. Hence, ASCI can not only suggest changes in an ad but can also forward the same to an Authorising Officer (AO) under the Cable Television Network Act, 1995 (Cable Act), if the advertiser doesn't comply with ASCI's recommendations. The AO has the power to prohibit the broadcast of such an advertisement.

ASCI also encourages the public to file complaints against ads that flout its guidelines. Such complaints are investigated by the ad body's Consumer Complaints Council (CCC).

However, ASCI doesn't have legal powers for complaint redressal or removal of ads for mediums like digital.

"The guidelines laid by ASCI aren’t entirely legally binding because of it being a self-regulatory body. But they do reinstate that parties involved in such endorsements pay special attention and care to the claims and statements made in the advertisements, in order to avoid the consumer from being misled," said Ishan Jindal, founder and CEO of influencer marketing automation platform Wobb.

Amev Burman, Founder of Adfluence Hub said that compliance with ASCI guidelines for VDA advertising is a grey area in the industry. "There are a lot of new players in the space that try and avoid it but most creator agencies and brands are following the guidelines. Celebrities and mega influencers not following the guidelines is a bigger risk which is why they usually abide by it."

Even Shivam Agarwal, Founder, Deckster.Live noted that while the acceptance ratio has increased, there is a long way for creators and brands to follow these rules completely.
Maryam Farooqui
first published: May 20, 2022 02:25 pm
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