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Edtech ads: ASCI flags off edtech brands' advertising for tall claims, stereotypes, focus on marks and ranks

ASCI released EdNext a study to spotlight edtech brands' bad practices and attempts to lay down a responsible approach to edtech advertising.

By  Storyboard 18Jan 11, 2023 8:12 PM
Edtech ads: ASCI flags off edtech brands' advertising for tall claims, stereotypes, focus on marks and ranks
ASCI's report states that while the marks-linked narrative is not unique to EdTech, spending crores of rupees in perpetuating this narrative can be considered undesirable for society at large. This pattern is seen as problematic by several experts and parent groups that are able to look beyond the immediate impact of advertising promises. (Representative image: Compare Fibre via Unsplash)

Advertising has a huge impact on parents’ choice of edtech platform, with 49 percent of parents choosing platforms based on advertising, according to a new report by The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). The industry body states in the report that like traditional education ads, edtech ads too, have a huge focus on marks and ranks, with mathematics and science dominating the subjects depicted in advertisements.

73 percent of parents surveyed as part of ASCI's EdNext study felt that ads showed high pressure of studies and none of the endorsers/role models depicted in the ads were from the academic fields. They also shared their concerns about stereotypes of gender, physical appearances, and mother’s roles that have crept into these ads over the years.

Edtech brands have come under huge fire for aggressive advertising and marketing tactics that have eroded brand trust and caused concern among parents across India. Industry bodies like ASCI have repeatedly flagged off advertising in the education sector which is one of the biggest violators of ASCI's advertising codes.

The EdNext study by ASCI proposed a framework to elevate the communication around edtech mindfully. Titled ‘RAISE’, the framework provides stakeholders a set of lenses to evaluate the creatives and develop messages that could be considered more progressive. ASCI hopes that following the checklist guide provided in the framework will help marketers and creative experts review concepts at the inception stage of the ad itself.

The framework is based on five principles which include:

R – Relationship of the student with learning

A – Authenticity of situations, promises and claims

I – Inclusive representation of characters to depict diversity in gender, age, physical attributes, personality types, learning styles and pace along with regional inclusion

S – Spectrum of pedagogy where there is information on learning methods and how they contribute to holistic learning outcomes

E – Excellence markers to focus on overall development as a measure of success over ranks and marks

Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary General, ASCI, said that edtech has emerged as a very important sector in recent times, especially in the pandemic era where parents engaged with these companies to supplement their children’s education.

"Edtech has the ability to solve some fundamental infrastructure and content challenges and revolutionize Indian education. However, given the particular asymmetry between vulnerable parents and students on the one hand, and large organizations on the other, it is critical to ensure that advertising is responsible and does not exploit these vulnerabilities," she said in a statement.

EdTech advertising has a massive opportunity to build a positive and future-facing narrative, which makes for compelling brand stories that also build confident and multifaceted learners, said Kapoor.

Divya Gokulnath, who is the Co-chair at Indian Ed-tech Consortium and co-founder BYJU’S, India's most valuable and biggest edtech company, said, "While it's natural for advertisers to highlight the best outcomes achieved by their users, the edtech industry strives to present a balanced picture at all times. As a nascent industry that is constantly evolving, we must adapt in our effort so that we can make learning effective for everyone. This initiative by ASCI will help us design even more responsible and effective ad campaigns as we continue to grow and improve."

First Published on Jan 11, 2023 7:12 PM