ASCI: Good intent, strange delivery

The intention of the Advertising Standards Council to educate consumers on how to deal with repulsive advertising is to be applauded. But its advertisements confuse the viewer

The self-regulatory body of the Indian ad industry, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the so-called industry watchdog, has released a new TV campaign that encourages viewers to shoot out complaints in case an ad offends their sensibilities, makes misleading claims, or exploits women. I watched three ads, and each tackles one subject.

Now, I like the fact that ASCI is taking action to ensure that the ad industry is kept on an alert, and thinks before putting out mischievous adverts. I also applaud the watchdog for making efforts to inform consumers on what to do when they get repulsed by an ad. However, I must say I am a little flummoxed by the creative route. Anyway, let's first discover what happens in the ads.

Each ad is executed as if a creative person/team is presenting an over-the-top script to a client. The scene is from a boardroom marketer/ad agency meet. In one, a chap is presenting the creative for a bulletproof tonic. It involves a cop who is able to survive many gun shots because of the tonic. This one deals with exaggerated claims.

The next one addresses sexual exploitation of women. A dotcom recruitment agency team presents a script that features a woman exposing her cleavage to net a job. In the third one the creative team tries to sell a script for a brand of chocolate. This one features children behaving in a dangerous manner on city roads.

So, all the correct triggers are being pulled out here. But there's a serious problem with this route. As a lay consumer, who has no idea what goes on behind the making of an ad, this approach leaves me confused. I am left scratching my head and wondering, "Eh, who are these jokers? What are they saying? Who are they talking to? What the bloody hell is going on?"

Here's what I suspect happened: ASCI is, quite unwisely, trying to kill two birds with one stone. They attempt to speak to both, the consumers AND the various ad agencies simultaneously. Now because the setting is a creative presentation, the ad folks will get these ads, but the consumers will be left confused. So the purpose of the effort is defeated.

What beats me is this: Advertisers and ad agency personnel can easily be targeted through direct marketing. And digital media can be used to reach them. Why on earth would ASCI use the mass media to target such an ultra-niche segment? And worse, compromise the mass consumer in the process. Quite bizarre.

I am planning to write a complaint letter to ASCI. Against its own confused advertising.

User

Another interest rate hike by RBI, borrowers to feel the pinch

All loans, including auto, home, personal and other corporate borrowings, are expected to cost more following the RBI's decision. Expectedly, industry expressed its disappointment over the sharp increase in interest rates, saying the move would harm the investment sentiment

Mumbai: Personal and corporate loans will become more expensive, with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today raising key interest rates sharply for the third time in the last three months, by 0.50%, to arrest price rise.

The central bank, in its quarterly review of the monetary policy, has also revised its fiscal-end inflation projection to 7% from 6% earlier. Meanwhile, it has retained the growth project for the current fiscal at 8%, reports PTI.

With a 50 basis point (bps) hike, the repo rate (at which the RBI lends to banks) would be 8% and the reverse repo rate (at which it borrows from banks) to 7%. However, the cash reserve ratio (CRR), the amount all banks need to park with RBI, remains unchanged at 6%.

All loans, including auto, home, personal and other corporate borrowings, are expected to cost more following the RBI's decision.

Expectedly, industry expressed its disappointment over the sharp increase in interest rates, saying the move would harm the investment sentiment.

"We thought it would be 25 bps. The RBI has seen something which industry has not... investment sentiments will be muted in the next six months," Ballarpur Industries chairman Gautam Thapar told PTI.

The stock market also reacted sharply, plunging by over 300 points within minutes of the RBI's policy announcement.

"Notwithstanding signs of moderation, inflationary pressures are clearly very strong... inflation continues to be the dominant macroeconomic concern. On the basis of this assessment, it has been decided to increase policy repo rate by 50 bps from 7.5% to 8% with immediate effect," RBI governor D Subbarao said while unveiling the monetary policy.

Inflation, currently hovering above 9%, he said, would continue to guide the policy stance in future. The RBI's next review is scheduled on 16th September.

The RBI admitted that the cumulative impact of past actions to curb demand and anchor medium-term inflationary expectations will curtail growth in the near term.

Bankers are of the view that the increase in key policy rates by the RBI will definitely have an impact on interest rates, leading to loans becoming more expensive.

"The hike is more than expected and it will push interest rates by up to 50 bps," said Oriental Bank of Commerce executive director SC Sinha.

Within an hour of monetary tightening by the RBI, private sector YES Bank hiked its base rate or minimum lending rate by 50 basis points.

The bank hiked its base rate by 50 basis points to 10.25% with immediate effect, making new loans more expensive by at least 0.5%.

In its annual policy meet on 3rd May, the apex bank had increased policy rates by 50 basis points, which was followed by a 25 basis points hike at its mid-quarter review in June.

Sounding hawkish, the governor said, "Going forward, the monetary policy stance will depend on the evolving inflation trajectory, which in turn will be determined by trends in the domestic growth and global commodity prices."

Admitting there has been a moderation in growth, the governor maintained his previous estimate of 8% GDP growth for the current fiscal and identified the downside risks to growth as global commodity prices, the uncertain global macroeconomic environment and the Centre's inability to meet the fiscal deficit target of 4.6% on the back of a rising fuel subsidy bill.

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India invites foreign investments in infrastructure

"India attaches great importance to improving its infrastructure, for which about $1 trillion will be required in the coming years. This provides a great investment opportunity for foreign companies, including those from Korea," president Pratibha Patil, who is on a three-day visit to South Korea said

Seoul: Inviting investments from South Korea and other countries into the infrastructure sector, president Pratibha Patil today said nearly $1 trillion will be spent in the coming years to improve India's roads, ports, railways and other core sectors, reports PTI.

"India attaches great importance to improving its infrastructure, for which about $1 trillion will be required in the coming years.

"This provides a great investment opportunity for foreign companies, including those from Korea," Ms Patil, who is on a three-day visit to South Korea said.

"In expanding and modernising our roads, highways, airports, sea ports and railways, we will require investment from foreign entities and firms.

"We look forward to greater participation in this endeavour by Korean companies," she said while inaugurating a business interaction organised by Korea Chambers of Commerce.

"To us, in India, the Korean economic miracle is inspiring. It was the hard work of the people of this country, coupled with the successful business model that was adopted, which has created the incredible economic success that the Republic of Korea today represents.

"In India too, you spotted the economic opportunities long before others, and this first-mover advantage has enabled Korean companies to reap great profits in our country.

"Hyundai, Samsung and LG are household names in India today," the president said.

Ms Patil said that both India and Korea are exploring the possibility of upgrading the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), implemented since January 2010, to boost trade between them. A high-level discussion in this regard is to begin in late September.

"Korean companies have adjusted extremely well to conditions in India. You are also making India the manufacturing hub for exports to third countries in South Asia, the Middle East and even Eastern Europe.

"Our bilateral trade rose by 40% last year, and by current projections is slated to reach $21 billion during the current calendar year, and would comfortably reach the level of $30 billion by 2014, the target we have set for ourselves.

"President Lee and I discussed the possibility of further upgrading our CEPA," the president said adding that "expert level discussions will commence from late-September this year."

The Indian president asked the North-East nation to further facilitate exchange of expertise between the two countries in industry and service sectors.

"Our IT companies are among the best in the world, and will be able to help Korean businesses in reducing costs and enhancing competitiveness.

"Similarly, Indian pharmaceuticals are of high quality coupled with low prices, and will be beneficial to Korean consumers," Ms Patil said.

The function was attended by members of Korean Chambers of Commerce and a delegation of about 30-members led by Deep Kapuria, chairman, CII, National Committee on Automation and Robotics.

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