The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on January 27 launched a report on influencers who have breached the influencer advertising guidelines that were introduced on May 27 last year. The guidelines had come into effect on June 14, 2021.
The ad regulator in its report said that influencers including actors Ranveer Singh who has 38.2 million followers on Instagram and Jacqueline Fernandez with 57.7 million followers, have breached ASCI guidelines for continuing to remain non-compliant.
ASCI said that the influencers and brands were contacted by the complaints handling team and were asked to comply with the guidelines. However, many of the influencers failed to comply with disclosure labels on the first instance and on subsequent routine checks.
While Singh has failed to comply with ASCI guidelines for his posts on brand Manyavar Creations, Fernandez breached the guidelines while posting content for brand Colorbar Cosmetics.
Along with the two actors, influencers including Jannat Zubair Rahmani for content on brand MyFitness, Sonam Babani for Nykaa, FAE Beauty, and Kama Ayurveda were reported flouting the influencer guidelines by ASCI. Other names are actor Urvashi Rautela, Aakriti Rana, Kritika Khurana, Shereen, Tashveen Sehgal, Nidhhi Agerwal, Saaniya Chaudhari, Anaghaa Bhagare, Kanika Mann, Karishma Sakhrani, Ofelia, Sajid, among others.
ASCI that screened 5,000 posts, stories, feeds from influencer handles observed absence of disclosures. The ad regulator also tracked inconsistency of disclosure. For example, in some Instagram stories, while the first story had the disclosure, the ones after that did not have a disclosure. It also looked at incorrect disclosure placement as in some posts the disclosure labels were not placed in a manner that was easily visible to the audience. For example, the viewer had to scroll down or click read more to see the disclosure.
The ASCI guidelines clearly state that if there is any material connection between an influencer and a brand, disclosures are necessary. The guidelines also mention that disclosure labels should be superimposed over the picture/video.
The ad watchdog in its recent report said that out of the 5,000 posts it screened over a span of six months between July and December last year, it found 719 posts which were considered to be prima facie violations of the guidelines.
Out of the 719 posts processed, 577 (80 percent) influencers voluntarily amended or withdrew their posts. And from the remaining 142 complaints, 121 were upheld by ASCI's Consumer Complaints Council and influencers were asked to withdraw or modify their posts. The regulator said that its recommendations received 86 percent compliance from influencers.
In addition, out of the total complaints processed, 21 percent originated from end consumers and the rest were picked up through ASCI's AI-based surveillance. Also, most complaints from consumers were from Instagram feeds and stories.
The advertisements that were without disclosures fell under four categories. Fashion and lifestyle had highest share of posts without disclosures at 29 percent, followed by cosmetic sat 19 percent, food and beverage at 13 percent and personal care at 12 percent.