Mamaearth Parent Honasa Consumer Biggest Violator of Ads in FY23-24, Followed by WinDaddy and Fun88 India: ASCI
Moneylife Digital Team 23 May 2024
While the Supreme Court grilled the Union government on why it asked AYUSH authorities in states and Union Territories (UTs) not to take any action against misleading advertisements under rule 170 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, the annual report from the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) shows healthcare emerged as the most violative sector, contributing to 19% of cases, followed by illegal offshore betting (17%), and personal-care (13%) during FY23-24.
"Out of the 1,575 advertisements processed in the healthcare sector, 1249 violated the Drugs and Magic Remedies (DMR) Act and were reported to the sector regulator. Nearly 86% of the healthcare ads appeared on digital platforms. Over 1310 advertisements for illegal betting were sent to the appropriate authorities for further action. Of the 1064 ads that ASCI examined in personal care, 95% of them appeared online, with more than half (55%) being influencer non-disclosure cases," ASCI says in the report.
While the apex court has rapped and banned the advertisement of Patanjali Ayurved Ltd, according to the ASCI report, Honasa Consumer Pvt Ltd, the parent of Mamaearth, Dr Sheth's Skin and Hair Clinic, Aqualogica, The Derma Co and Ayuga, turns out to be the biggest violater in FY23-24.
Honasa is the biggest violator with 187 such ads, followed by sports betting companies WinDaddy and Fun88 India with 98 each.
On the other hand, Patanjali was involved in as many as 28 advertising violations during FY23-24. Patanjali's ads on DantKanti toothpaste, chyawanprash, infection-fighting Ayurvedic medicines, heart medicines, ointments, honey, sprays, and orthopaedic and pain-relief tablets were found to violate the ASCI code. 
According to ASCI, baby-care has emerged as a new contender in the top violators category, with influencer promotions contributing to 81% of baby-care cases. "Celebrities continued to appear in ads that were in violation of the ASCI code. ASCI processed complaints against 101 ads featuring celebrities, 91% of which required modification. Almost 104 celebrities appearing in these 101 ads were found to be in violation of the celebrity guidelines as they could not provide any evidence of due diligence."
The top-5 violative categories for celebrity violations were: personal-care (22%), food & beverages (21%), illegal or betting (20%), healthcare (9%), and durables (6%).
In addition to processing objectionable ads through its own processes, ASCI reported 3,200 advertisements directly to various regulators for violations of the law. Besides, 1,311 offshore illegal and betting ads were escalated to the Union ministry of information & broadcasting (MIB) and 1,249 healthcare ads were reported to the Union ministry of AYUSH for potential violations of the DMR Act. Other ads included: realty (493 ads), alcoholic beverages (82 ads), and tobacco and tobacco-based products (65 ads).
According to Manisha Kapoor, chief executive officer (CEO) and secretary general of ASCI, sectors like healthcare emerging at the top are a significant concern for all citizens. She says, "With the highest number of violative ads seen online, advertisers and platforms must work more closely with regulators and self-regulators to keep consumers protected. ASCI Academy's recently launched e-learning courses on responsible advertising and responsible influencing is a significant step to increase the industry's capacity to create ads with a greater understanding of regulatory standards and ensure that consumers are not exposed to objectionable advertising in the first place."
During FY23-24, ASCI examined 10,093 complaints and investigated 8,299 advertisements. The majority of violations were on account of misleading claims at 81%, followed by ads that promoted harmful situations or products at 34%. The same ad can be processed for multiple objections. 
"Digital ads accounted for 85% of ads processed and had a lower compliance rate of 75%, compared to 97% for print and TV. This raises serious questions about the online safety of consumers, as was highlighted last year as well. Almost 94% of the ads that were processed were picked up suo moto by ASCI," it added.
4 weeks ago
Bodies like ASCI, FSSAI need to be given more teeth to be effective in curbing the menace of falsehood and cheating customers.

Government spending on such agencies should go up, along with their accountability.

In addition, there should be elaborate setup in naming & shaming the violators.
Case in hand , the high-profile Patanjali, just because it was the case of high & mighty it garnered adequate publicity, else , for smaller players such news rarely percolates to the masses.
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