ASCI pulls up big names for misleading claims
K Saldanha 15 March 2013

The Advertising Standards Council of India upheld complaints against 43 of 50 advertisements in the month of December, including those against big boys like Hindustan Unilever, Pernod Ricard, Aircel and Dabur India. With a new tracking system in place, the self-regulatory organisation claims it is now much more efficient at finding false claims, both in print and on TV

 The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) upheld complaints against several big names for false or misleading claims in their advertisements in December 2012. Offenders included fast-moving consumer goods manufacturer Hindustan Unilever (HUL), which was pulled up for ads for three of its products, New Rin, New Clear anti-dandruff shampoo and Comfort Fabric Conditioner, and Aircel, whose ‘voyeuristic’ TV advertisement was said to have the potential to cause “grave and widespread offence”.
ASCI is now using technology to identify violations in print and on TV, which the National Advertising Monitoring Service (NAMS) identifies. NAMS, which uses TAM Media’s AdEx India software to monitor ads, tracks more than 30 major newspapers and all every television channels aired in India in all languages. Here are some of its noteworthy decisions in December 2012, when it upheld 43 of the 50 complaints it received.
White lies
You probably wouldn’t believe a claim like “the only detergent powder in India which gives freedom from yellowness and gives shining whiteness”, but HUL certainly thinks some of us will buy it. In the ad, for New Rin, it also tried to substantiate the above claim by saying it was a patented technology that removed the “perception of yellowness”. ASCI found the claim to be misleading. It said that simply the use of patented technology is not enough to substantiate the product’s ability to remove ‘yellowness’. The organisation also pulled HUL up for including a “creative representation of yellowness removal” to show how New Rin is better than other products. Its judgement says, “This in effect means that the shots showing the shirt washed with the other detergent and the shirt washed with New Rin cannot be replicated into reality. This is incorrect and misleads the consumers.” 
HUL was also asked to remove from its website the claim that its Comfort Fabric Conditioner is the “market leader globally” as the American brand Downy was the No 1 fabric conditioner in the world. The advertisement for the new Clear Anti-Dandruff shampoo was also found to be misleading, as the company was not able to substantiate the claim that its product was the “best anti-dandruff shampoo in the country” nor was it able to produce the details of the consumer study that found that it was the preferred choice of “9 out of 10 users”.
UnFairness cream
Perhaps you’ve seen the ad, the one in which Minissha Lamba’s glow is so noticeable, ballet dancers are distracted mid-performance. If you haven’t, you can watch it below ( Toward the end of the advertisement, you’ll notice that Oxy Life Bleach “gives natural fairness” and “contains no ammonia”. ASCI ruled that the first was without proof and the second was absurd because ammonia is unavoidable, as it is produced when the ingredients in the package are mixed together.
Moot music
You’ve seen the advertisements—for Royal Stag Mega Music, Seagram 100 Pipers Pure Music, Seagram’s Blender’s Pride Magical Nights—but have you seen the product? No? ASCI thinks so too. It concluded that in the absence of data by “an independent research company of the number of outlets the brand extension products is distributed in the market place or audited sales revenues generated”, the products are to be “considered surrogate ads of a liquor brand whose advertising is not allowed”. The complaint was, therefore, upheld.
Privacy settings
Aircel’s ad is surely in bad taste. In it, college students secretly film a young woman in a library when she removes her upper coat whilst this is being watched by a fellow student. ASCI noted that the commercial is “appalling, particularly at a time when youth are looking up to movies and commercials for ideas and inspirations”. It went on to add that the commercial might take away the sense of guilt of “secretly filming a woman in a public place”. Lastly the judgement notes that the ad “in the light of generally prevailing standards of propriety, is likely to cause grave or widespread offence.”

Muddy claims
Sachin may hold numerous records in cricket, but this is not necessarily true for the products he endorses. In the ad for Livpure Water Purifiers (, which Sachin appears in, it is claimed that the product “gives out world's most pure water” and is “India’s first intelligent RO water purifier”. In its judgement, ASCI asked “Is it purer than water processed by other water purifiers like Kent, Pureit and Tata Swach? Is it purer than distilled water, glacial water and boiled water?” As the manufacturer was unable to substantiate its claims with scientific evidence, proof, safety data or certification, the complaint against the ad was upheld.
Of the 43 complaints that were upheld, 17 were from the healthcare segment, seven from the home and personal care, five from education and four from consumer durables. Other categories included telecom, real estate and food and beverage. The complaints were not upheld against Ceat Ltd’s Ceat Tyres, Skin Alive’s Forever Young, Kovai Medical Center & Hospital’s Effective Treatment for Thyroid Disorders & Cancer, Gillette India’s Oral-B Cross Action Pro-Health toothbrush, Clinic Dermatech’s Beauty Solutions for Skin Problems and Procter & Gamble Home Products’ Pantene Pro-V shampoo.
Vinay Joshi
1 decade ago

Over the period several complaints upheld by ASCI.

What about the consumers, the victims?

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