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Healthcare ads most violative, says ASCI

May 23,2024

NEW DELHI: Healthcare emerged as the most violative sector in India with respect to advertising rules in 2023-24, with majority of violations took place due to misleading claims, an annual analysis of Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) showed.

Among the violators, healthcare ads contribute 19% of cases, followed by illegal offshore betting (17%), personal care (13%), conventional education (12%), food and beverage (10%), and realty (7%).

Babycare emerged as a new contender in the top violators category, with influencer promotions (by celebrities without proper disclosure) contributing to 81% of cases.

In 2023-24, the analysis studied 10,093 complaints and 8,299 advertising campaigns. Nearly half of the advertisements picked up by ASCI were not contested by the advertisers. 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).

Manisha Kapoor, CEO & secretary general of ASCI, said, “2023-24 has been a truly challenging year and ASCI stepped up to this by focusing on digital. About 3,200 advertisements were shared with various regulators, such as MIB, Ayush, and MahaRera, for direct violations of the law. We see this as a continuing area of focus. 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.”

Further, digital media remained the primary source of violations, accounting 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, a point highlighted last year as well, ASCI said.

In 2023-24, the number of complaints regarding misleading and violative ads was 12.8% higher over 2022-23. Saugata Gupta, ASCI chairman said, “As digital emerges as a dominant media in which advertisements thrive, ASCI has geared up to challenges through constant investment in technology’.

And, celebrities continued to appear in ads that were in violation of ASCI code. ASCI processed complaints against 101 ads featuring celebrities, 91% of which required modification, the analysis said. About 104 celebrities appearing in these 101 ads were found to be in violation of guidelines as they could not provide any evidence of due diligence.

The analysis pointed to lack of due diligence of marketing and advertising campaigns by social media influencers. Due diligence is a requirement under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

Source: TOI

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