ASCI to step up focus on prevention of misleading ads

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) will be stepping up focus on prevention of misleading advertisements as well as evolving its guidelines in line with the fast-paced changes in the advertising sector. Over the past two years, the self-regulatory industry body has brought in several new guidelines to tackle issues in emerging areas such as real money gaming, crypto assets and influencers.

“I think the big focus for us will be prevention. We believe prevention is as important as corrective action and an important tool of self-regulation. So our key focus will be on education, guidance and training to support the industry to get it right. We want to create an advertising ecosystem that takes responsibility as seriously as it does creativity,” said NS Rajan, the recently-elected Chairman of ASCI.

Compromises consumer interest

In the digital age, often by the time a brand takes corrective action a large section of consumers may have already seen a misleading ad. Rajan pointed out that this compromises consumer interest and hence the focus on prevention is critical.

ASCI is already running initiatives like Advertising Advice and Endorser due-diligence and now plans to launch the ASCI Academy initiative soon. “With prevention as the big plank, we will now build a host of services under ASCI Academy in a formalised manner and this will be finalised over the next few weeks,” he added. The self-regulatory industry body expects its guidelines to also evolve with the fast-changing advertising ecosystem.

The advertising ecosystem, which has been following a self-regulation model to tackle misleading ads, is also now accountable to the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA). Under the Consumer Protection Act, CCPA has released guidelines for prevention of misleading ads for brands and endorsers with penal provisions.

“In markets across the globe, self-regulatory bodies and regulators co-exist and work together because they have complementary strengths. We are working closely with various government ministries. Our role as a self-regulatory body is to generate awareness, prevent misleading ads and push for voluntary compliance. Self-regulation becomes the first line of defence. Government’s regulations act as a deterrent and some of the guidelines brought out by CCPA have overlaps with the ASCI code. Also ASCI is part of the I&B Ministry’s programming and advertising code,” Rajan stated. 

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