The Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) will be hosting an event ‘Creativity, For Goodness’ Sake’ on 20 March in Mumbai. Ahead of the event, Campaign India caught up with Narendra Ambwani, chairman, ASCI.
Ambwani, since being appointed as the chairman last year, has been working towards trying to pre-empt the creation of a ‘clean’ ad. He explained, “How do we convince the creators of advertising to follow discipline? After an ad has been created, money has already been spent on that which is too little too late.”
The focus also lies, he stated, in educating the young entrants into the industry about ASCI, its roles and the guidelines. “Young people from ad agencies, marketing groups need to be made aware of the importance of self discipline. ASCI wants them to understand that being creative does not mean being socially irresponsible and that it isn’t about making claims which are untrue. An advertisement should be entertaining as well as responsible. If we achieve that goal then people will have a lot more faith in advertising.
We’ve created an online training program which can be easily taken by anyone who is interested in advertising. The training program will be announced at the event on 20 March. The program has been tested with employees of Yahoo India. This is one method of propagating the code. The training program was created because just reading up on the code is not sufficient unless it is followed by an understanding of application.”
ASCI is also focusing on making the process of registering a complaint easy and convenient for the consumers, and will be launching a mobile app soon.
The chairman informed, “Complaints can be made by online, email, post and call. We are set to launch an app using which complaints can be registered with ASCI. This will also be announced at the event. We’re trying to be in-line with how consumers are behaving today. Nowadays, almost 80 per cent to 90 per cent of complaints are registered online. The average redressal which was 50 to 60 days earlier has now been brought down to 15 days.”
Consumers these days are very aware of the ads they see and this is evident in the fact that most of the complaints are coming from them instead of the industry, he added. “Having said that, there is still need to create further awareness amongst them.”
On the arguments being made about having a system of pre-approval for ads, he said, “The Government of India via Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is also concerned about how ads are monitored. There have been suggestions in the past about whether there should be an organisation to pre-approve ads being them going live. But that is not a feasible approach.”
ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) sees a lot of small-scaled or local advertisers being upheld for their ads. Ambwani spoke about the specific challenge while addressing them, “There is need for us to engage with the small and local advertisers. They are not exposed to the code. We are reaching out to the media organisations that carry these ads to suggest to them to make such advertisers aware of the ASCI codes. But it is an uphill task as sometimes it is difficult to even verify the address of such advertisers.”
The biggest challenge is to be seen as fair by all stakeholders, according to him. "Because for a media owner, to pull down an ad means losing money,” he stated.