The advertising industry operates within strict regulations and is monitored by the ASCI in India. Even with truth-in-advertising laws in place, advertisers have significant leeway to violate the ethical standards of a wide range of consumers. Advertisers have to be especially careful to act ethically at all times, taking extra care when advertising to children, advertising potentially harmful products and using psychological tactics to stimulate demand. Having a list of ethical and legal issues at hand when creating advertisements can help you to craft legal, responsible ad messages.
Sometimes misleading statements are contested in courts. For example, an advertisement of Nestle India Ltd (maggie healthy soup) created an impression that consumption of Maggie soup leads to better heart and health, while on testing by independent agency, it has been found that it contains high levels of salt which releases sodium into body which in turn, causes hypertension and high blood pressure instead of good heart and health. Therefore, on complaint, ASCI declared the advertisement as case of misleading by implication and ambiguity. Nestle India Ltd assured ASCI that it would modify its advertisements.
Role of ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India):
Its primary purpose is to control the content of advertisements. ASCI is not a government body, it is a voluntary council, registered as a not for profit company under section 25 of the Indian Company’s Act, 1956.
The following are the basic principles of ASCI:
1. To insure the truthfulness and honesty of representation & claims made by advertisements and to safeguard against misleading advertisements.
2. To insure that advertisers are not offensive to generally accepted standards of public decency.
3. To safeguard against the indiscriminate use of advertising for the promotion of products which are regarded as hazardous to members of society.
4. To ensure that advertisements observe fairness in completion so that the consumers are informed on choices in the market- place and the canons of generally accepted competitive behavior in business are both served.