As per a few recently released advertising guidelines, non-legible disclaimers, and information in ads will be viewed as false advertising. The owners of such ads can be penalized or imprisoned as per the procedures put in place by the consumer affairs ministry. These ads will also be put out in the public domain to be subjected to comments from respective stakeholders. Moreover, it has also been made mandatory for celebrity endorsements through personal blogs, tweets, and other testifying means to be based on appropriate information or experience.
Until now, abiding by the ASCI code was voluntary, but these guidelines enforce that code and make it mandatory for advertisers to follow this code of conduct. Let’s discuss these guidelines in detail.
A code to regulate advertising is necessary, especially considering the general sentiment of consumers around advertising. The following stats show consumers have little to no trust in the claims made in advertising. These regulations of advertising might act as the required turning point to enable consumers to believe the messaging presented in ads.
- Only 28 percent of consumers trust the claims made in ad campaigns.
- 23 percent of consumers have zero trust in advertisements.
- 15 percent of consumers feel ads for food products & supplements are misleading.
- 76 percent of consumers want restrictions on surrogate advertising.
- Only 3 percent of consumers have a high level of trust in print, TV, digital & other media forms.
- 25 percent of consumers have an average level of trust in ads.
- 48 percent of consumers have a low level of trust in ads.
The altering ads landscape
These advertising codes and guidelines seek to hold manufacturers, service providers, along with celebrity endorsers accountable for ads and stipulate hefty fines and imprisonment in case of misleading claims. Aside from traditional mediums like print radio and TV, these guidelines will also monitor digital platforms, including e-commerce websites. This means that digital advertisers can no longer get away with making false claims about their products and services, and this includes celebrities as well.
This move is being widely appreciated since consumers get heavily influenced by celebrities and are quick to trust the product or service endorsed by them. Making them liable will only make them and companies more accountable and watchful in their advertising.
Steps to follow
Considering the significance that is attached to these advertising codes and regulations, it is important for advertisers to be clear about the action points that need to be kept in mind while curating ads going forward. The guidelines bring forward some very straight points that will drive advertising.
The first thing that needs to be ensured is that if your ads need to bear a disclaimer, it should be clear, prominent, and legible. This means that the disclaimer needs to be printed in the same font size as the claim to prevent individuals from missing it while viewing the ad. Moreover, it should be in the same language as the advertisement’s claim to be easily understood by the audiences.
These guidelines also bring forward a framework for TV advertisement and other forms of video ads and state that if a claim is presented through voice over, the disclaimer needs to be displayed or played along with the VO. The guidelines mandate that the disclaimer should not conceal material information or, in any form, make the ad deceptive or hide its commercial intent. In addition, digital advertisers must also ensure that their ads follow general guidelines. It is the responsibility of the advertiser to confirm that all ads comply with applicable laws and regulations and fall under the advertising policies of the country and state where the ad will be served. For instance, obscene or pornographic material, adult material, adult services, nudity, excessive profanity are under no circumstances allowed in digital ads.
According to Manisha Kapoor, secretary-general, Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the frameworks and guidelines can be expected to witness further refinement as it is necessary that it sensitive and relevant to what is current. For example, there is an acute sensitivity to health claims in today’s situation, and the consumer mindset has shifted. What might have been considered acceptable earlier may not be so today. This is why advertisers need to keep up with the changing scenario in order to stay relevant.
ASCI has also stated that monitoring digital platforms will be practiced more extensively in addition to the already tracked print and television media. ASCI has recently added this under its National Advertising Monitoring Service (NAMS), and there can be a stronger framework put in place to enhance the credibility of digital ads soon. The idea is to identify potentially misleading advertisements on digital media and protect the audience from falling prey to these false claims.
The next big step in advertising in terms of advertising code and guidance is that there can be a stronger bent towards driving and evolving the industry narrative on responsible advertising. As economies open up and consumerism increases, the relevance of a powerful regulatory framework becomes even more critical, giving rise to the evolution of more accountable advertising.
These guidelines will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the quality of information that is presented in advertising and will enable audiences to place greater trust in ads. This is surely welcome more for advertisers and consumers alike.