Advertising Watchdog ASCI Pulls Up Airtel, Tata Teleservices Over Misleading Ads

Advertising Watchdog ASCI Pulls Up Airtel, Tata Teleservices Over Misleading Ads

Advertising watchdog ASCI has pulled up several companies, including Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices, Mahindra & Mahindra and Himalaya, for misleading advertisements in June.

During the month, the Customer Complaints Council (CCC) of Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) upheld complaints against 134 misleading advertisements out of 183, which also included those of Glaxosmithkline Consumer Healthcare, Gillette and Hindustan Unilever.

Out of 134 complaints those were upheld, 44 each belonged to the healthcare and education category, followed by 24 in the food and beverages category and 8 in personal care.

The ad regulator has found that claims of leading telecom services provider Bharti Airtel as the 'best network' as "incorrect and is misleading by implication" as it connotes many parameters associated with the performance for which different service providers have to compared.

"'Transparency' of communication providing input for improvement does not necessarily make any network the best," said ASCI in its order.

Commenting on the order, an Airtel spokesperson said it is "the first operator to have made public its entire network information in a transparent fashion and we strongly believe that only when we open ourselves to customer scrutiny will we become the best."

He further said: "We do not agree with the observation made by ASCI and have shared all details with them."

The regulator also upheld an ad by Tata Teleservices for its Docomo service as "misleading", where it had claimed to charge Local/STD Mobile calls at 30p/min in Rs. 68.

"The ad claims Rs. 68 - Local/STD Mobile calls at 30p/min, is not substantiated and is misleading by ambiguity about the conditions under which this claim is tenable or exclusion criteria for which this offer is not available," it said.

ASCI also upheld complaint against Mahindra & Mahindra for misleading the consumer by claiming to offer Mahindra Supro Maxi Truck and Mahindra Maxximo Plus at a discounted price in exchange of their competitor's vehicle Tata ACE.

"The comparisons made in the advertisement were not factual and were not substantiated and are misleading. Also, the comparisons made were likely to mislead the consumers about the product advertised and with which it is compared," it added.

Commenting on it, a M&M Spokesperson said: "This complaint was received from ASCI on June and we have sent the response to ASCI. The ad was released by our local empanelled agency, we had instructed them to discontinue the press ad with immediate effect."

Himalaya Company failed to substantiate the claim made for its facewash, where the FMCG firm claimed the product has the goodness of neem and haldi that gives protection against every skin problems.

According to ASCI, Himalaya could not substantiate it with product efficacy data and the claim was misleading by exaggeration.

Commenting on the ASCI decision, Himalaya said that its product safety and efficacy claims are rooted in the science of Ayurveda and substantiated by modern scientific research.

"With regards to this particular commercial, ASCI has made a recommendation to the manner in which the efficacy claim is communicated and we have taken due note of the same," said the company spokesperson.

The consumer complaint council also pulled up FMCG major Hindustan Unilever for claiming about its Axe Deodorants that "When it gets hot, the fragrance is boosted".

According to ASCI, it "was not adequately substantiated with consumer perception data, and is misleading by implication". Similarly, it also found the claims of shaving products maker Gillette for its Gillette Vector as misleading.

"The ad claim offers, 'Save Rs 30 in comparison to Vector 2s pack is misleading by omission of a disclaimer to mention the exact price comparison with the post price increase of the product," it added.


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Further reading: ASCI, Airtel, Tata Teleservices, Telecom
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