Airtel, M&M, Glaxo among 134 firms pulled up by ad watchdog

18 Oct 2016


The Advertising Standards Council of India has pulled up several companies, prominent among them being Bharti Airtel, Tata Teleservices, Mahindra & Mahindra and Himalaya, for misleading advertisements in July. Others included Glaxosmithkline Consumer Healthcare, Gillette and Hindustan Unilever.

During the month, the Customer Complaints Council (CCC) of the ASCI received 183 complaints of misleading advertisements, of which it upheld 134. Of these, 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 misleading by implication" as it connotes many parameters associated with the performance for which different service providers have to compared.

" 'Transparency' of communication and 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 the complaint against an ad by Tata Teleservices for its Docomo service as "misleading", where it had claimed to charge Local / STD Mobile calls at 30p / min.

"The ad claims Rs68 - 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 a complaint against Mahindra & Mahindra for misleading the consumer by claiming to offer the 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 this, a M&M Spokesperson said, "This complaint was received from ASCI in 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 face wash, where the FMCG firm claimed the product has the goodness of neem and haldi that gives protection against every skin problem.

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

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