Citizens' Issues
ASCI pulls up big names for misleading claims

The Advertising Standards Council of India upheld complaints against 43 of 50 advertisements in the month of December, including those against big boys like Hindustan Unilever, Pernod Ricard, Aircel and Dabur India. With a new tracking system in place, the self-regulatory organisation claims it is now much more efficient at finding false claims, both in print and on TV

 
 The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) upheld complaints against several big names for false or misleading claims in their advertisements in December 2012. Offenders included fast-moving consumer goods manufacturer Hindustan Unilever (HUL), which was pulled up for ads for three of its products, New Rin, New Clear anti-dandruff shampoo and Comfort Fabric Conditioner, and Aircel, whose ‘voyeuristic’ TV advertisement was said to have the potential to cause “grave and widespread offence”.
 
ASCI is now using technology to identify violations in print and on TV, which the National Advertising Monitoring Service (NAMS) identifies. NAMS, which uses TAM Media’s AdEx India software to monitor ads, tracks more than 30 major newspapers and all every television channels aired in India in all languages. Here are some of its noteworthy decisions in December 2012, when it upheld 43 of the 50 complaints it received.
 
White lies
 
You probably wouldn’t believe a claim like “the only detergent powder in India which gives freedom from yellowness and gives shining whiteness”, but HUL certainly thinks some of us will buy it. In the ad, for New Rin, it also tried to substantiate the above claim by saying it was a patented technology that removed the “perception of yellowness”. ASCI found the claim to be misleading. It said that simply the use of patented technology is not enough to substantiate the product’s ability to remove ‘yellowness’. The organisation also pulled HUL up for including a “creative representation of yellowness removal” to show how New Rin is better than other products. Its judgement says, “This in effect means that the shots showing the shirt washed with the other detergent and the shirt washed with New Rin cannot be replicated into reality. This is incorrect and misleads the consumers.” 
 
HUL was also asked to remove from its website the claim that its Comfort Fabric Conditioner is the “market leader globally” as the American brand Downy was the No 1 fabric conditioner in the world. The advertisement for the new Clear Anti-Dandruff shampoo was also found to be misleading, as the company was not able to substantiate the claim that its product was the “best anti-dandruff shampoo in the country” nor was it able to produce the details of the consumer study that found that it was the preferred choice of “9 out of 10 users”.
 
UnFairness cream
 
Perhaps you’ve seen the ad, the one in which Minissha Lamba’s glow is so noticeable, ballet dancers are distracted mid-performance. If you haven’t, you can watch it below (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_wuSlCnzAEY). Toward the end of the advertisement, you’ll notice that Oxy Life Bleach “gives natural fairness” and “contains no ammonia”. ASCI ruled that the first was without proof and the second was absurd because ammonia is unavoidable, as it is produced when the ingredients in the package are mixed together.
 
Moot music
 
You’ve seen the advertisements—for Royal Stag Mega Music, Seagram 100 Pipers Pure Music, Seagram’s Blender’s Pride Magical Nights—but have you seen the product? No? ASCI thinks so too. It concluded that in the absence of data by “an independent research company of the number of outlets the brand extension products is distributed in the market place or audited sales revenues generated”, the products are to be “considered surrogate ads of a liquor brand whose advertising is not allowed”. The complaint was, therefore, upheld.
 
Privacy settings
 
Aircel’s ad is surely in bad taste. In it, college students secretly film a young woman in a library when she removes her upper coat whilst this is being watched by a fellow student. ASCI noted that the commercial is “appalling, particularly at a time when youth are looking up to movies and commercials for ideas and inspirations”. It went on to add that the commercial might take away the sense of guilt of “secretly filming a woman in a public place”. Lastly the judgement notes that the ad “in the light of generally prevailing standards of propriety, is likely to cause grave or widespread offence.”

Muddy claims
 
Sachin may hold numerous records in cricket, but this is not necessarily true for the products he endorses. In the ad for Livpure Water Purifiers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKxBr85YBaI), which Sachin appears in, it is claimed that the product “gives out world's most pure water” and is “India’s first intelligent RO water purifier”. In its judgement, ASCI asked “Is it purer than water processed by other water purifiers like Kent, Pureit and Tata Swach? Is it purer than distilled water, glacial water and boiled water?” As the manufacturer was unable to substantiate its claims with scientific evidence, proof, safety data or certification, the complaint against the ad was upheld.
 
Of the 43 complaints that were upheld, 17 were from the healthcare segment, seven from the home and personal care, five from education and four from consumer durables. Other categories included telecom, real estate and food and beverage. The complaints were not upheld against Ceat Ltd’s Ceat Tyres, Skin Alive’s Forever Young, Kovai Medical Center & Hospital’s Effective Treatment for Thyroid Disorders & Cancer, Gillette India’s Oral-B Cross Action Pro-Health toothbrush, Clinic Dermatech’s Beauty Solutions for Skin Problems and Procter & Gamble Home Products’ Pantene Pro-V shampoo.
 

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COMMENTS

Vinay Joshi

4 years ago

K.Saldhana,

Over the period several complaints upheld by ASCI.

What about the consumers, the victims?

Regards,

FinMin’s two faces: One unit wants to penalise while the other believes in incentives for the same goal!

While one unit of the finance ministry want to penalise citizens for using cheque and cash, another unit believes in providing 2% incentives to encourage online transactions

 

The finance ministry wants to encourage the use of online payment systems. However, there seems to be two opposing methods being used by the finance ministry to achieve the same goal. While its Financial Services department want to penalise citizens for using cheque and cash, a Committee on Payment Systems suggested giving a 2% incentive on online tax payments.
 
The Committee has suggested an incentive of 2% lower sales tax, service tax, goods and service tax if a product is procured and payment made online for encouraging merchants and consumers to look at internet-based small-value transactions.
 
On 25 October 2012, DD Maheshwari, under secretary in the Department of Financial Services sent out a fatwa to all chief executives of public sector banks (PSBs) asking them to consider charging a processing fee from the customer paying credit card dues either in cash or through cheque. This idea was taken from HDFC Bank that recently increased such charges from Rs50 to Rs100 per transaction. 
 
According the suggestion made by the Committee, the incentive can also be offered to the consumers in terms of value added tax (VAT) refund on the use of credit and debit cards, for encouraging card usage. 
 
While online payment is one of the futures in payment systems, the finance ministry seems to have ignored the ground realities. According to IntenetWorldStats.com, as of June 2012, India ranked at the bottom in top 20 countries across the world in internet penetration. UK was the topper with 83.6% of its population having access to internet the same for India was just 11.4%.    
 
According to a report by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB), as of December 2012, there were about 15 crore internet users in the country, out of which 8.71 crore accessed it from mobile devices.  
 
Last month, while speaking at a seminar on “Principles for Financial Market Infrastructures and Innovations in Retail Payment Systems”, Harun R Khan, deputy governor, RBI said, “Although, the recent financial crisis did not show any strong evidence of correlation between payment systems and financial stability, going forward, payment systems, both large value and retail, could be the source of instability when the financial transactions moves largely to electronic mode that gives rise to several operational and financial risks.” 
 
In addition, the central bank on 28 February 2013, asked all banks to put in place security and risk control measures to minimise the impact of cyber attacks on electronic payment systems.
 
Unfortunately, it appears that the finance ministry is forcefully intervening into the RBI’s territory of retail payment systems, which is one of the primary functions of the financial regulator.
 

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COMMENTS

gopalanjanaki

4 years ago

That shows intelligence of the person.Spread red carpet for BUDGET&we are taken away by++ points&MISS----------- points&realise very late!!!!PULL the carpet when you are analysing+ points!!! great

Ubaldo C DSouza

4 years ago

Each one wants to show his clout. Enjoy the tug-of-war.

nagesh kini

4 years ago

A clear case of the MOF's left hand not knowing what the right is doing!
What is their mechanism to monitor their fatwas in the form of Directions/Circulars?
None whatsoever!
Cobra string operation exposes them naked!
In their hurry to enhance CASA to window dress balance sheets Form 60 for No PAN all accounts such accounts should be subjected to a specialspot audit.

Finance ministry asks PSU general insurers to ramp up claim management

“It has been felt necessary to contain the losses to improve their financial health ... instructions have been issued to them to achieve this objective through prudent underwriting and efficient claims management,” minister of state for finance Namo Narain Meena said

 
The finance ministry has asked public sector general insurance companies to ramp up their financial health through prudent underwriting and efficient claim management.
 
Minister of state for finance Namo Narain Meena in a written reply to the Lok Sabha said all four PSU general insurers have been incurring underwriting losses over a period of time.
 
“It has been felt necessary to contain the losses to improve their financial health ... Advisory instructions have been issued to them to achieve this objective through prudent underwriting and efficient claims management,” Meena said.
 
The four PSU general insurers—National Insurance, New India Assurance, Oriental Insurance and United India Insurance—have together paid Rs168 crore as dividend in the 2011-12 fiscal.
 
The dividend received in 2010-11 was Rs30 crore, and in 2009-10 was Rs270 crore, he said.
 
Meena further said there was no proposal before the government to list the PSU general insurance companies.
 

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