The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has announced an advisory to advertisers so that they can adhere better to ASCI code on misleading advertisements.
This follows brands issuing misleading claims around cures and preventions for Covid-19.
The advisory states that advertisements should avoid claiming destruction or removal of any virus other than Coronavirus in order to not violate provision of ASCI code’s clause 1.4 (advertisements shall neither distort facts nor mislead consumers by means of implications and omissions) and 1.5 (advertisements shall not be framed as to abuse the trust of consumers or exploit their lack of experience and knowledge).
If an advertisers opts to claim removal of any other virus in an advertisement, they should include a disclaimer such as ‘claim not applicable to Covid-19’ or a similar message with the disclaimer size and position as per the disclaimer guideline of ASCI.
It adds that advertisers are to be particularly careful while making claims to reduce the chances of becoming infected with coronavirus or gain immunity against it. They should be able to substantiate claims of immunity against or treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19) supported by either technical support recognised or approved by health authorities such as WHO, ICMR, MoHFW, AYUSH, DCGI, CDC (USA), or health organisations of similar stature.
Products which are not internally consumed or applied to bodies, i.e., not requiring license under the Drug & Cosmetic Act, should be particularly cautious while making claims regarding prevention of, immunity against or treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19) unless they have claim-support data as required per the above mentioned clause.
Manisha Kapoor, general secretary, ASCI, said, “We want advertisers to be more mindful in creating advertisements and making claims related to Covid-19. Given the pandemic and the extended lockdowns, people are obviously concerned. Manufacturers and brands have also responded to consumer needs arising out of the pandemic. However, we want these products and advertisements to stick to claims and promises that are well backed by adequate substantiation. The advisory to advertisers is meant to safeguard consumers as well as to ensure the highest standards for advertising. They have been developed after consultations with advertisers, as well as with technical experts in different fields such as biochemistry, Ayurveda, Food and nutrition etc. The pandemic is a difficult time for everyone, even brands, but it cannot be a platform to mislead consumers. We thank brands who have been watchful of their claims, embracing self-regulation as a practice while promoting their products and services.”