MUMBAI: Indian advertisers and agencies are signing up to a new code that encourages "advertising with a conscience".

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has attracted 240 signatories to its guidelines in this area, including up to 60 "industry leaders", the Times of India reports.

ASCI's initiative was launched at ad festival Goafest last week.

By signing up to the document, advertisers pledge to "ensure ... decency in advertising [and] non-exploitation of vulnerable sections of society especially children".

ASCI chairman Rajiv Dube said: "We felt the need to broaden the scope so that leaders can act as inspirational role models for [the] youngsters in the industry who are eventually going to create the advertisements."

This follows a similar Indian initiative from international food companies including Coca-Cola, Nestlé and General Mills.

Set up in July 2010 and effective from January 2011, the firms' India Pledge obliges signatories to implement stricter standards on advertising to children.

Specific promises include not advertising products which fail to meet government nutrition guidelines to children aged under 12 years old.

In practice, this means that the food firms will not buy airtime to advertise certain products during TV shows if a majority of the programme's audience is under the age limit.

Signatories also agreed not to advertise such products on the premises of primary schools.

Organisers of the new initiative are now aiming to sign up more company ceos.

"We have now felt the need to sensitize the young people who join this advertising industry in great numbers every year about creating advertisements with a conscience," Sam Balsara, chairman of local ad agency Madison World and one of the ASCI pledge's signatories, added.

"The aim is to build consumer confidence in advertising."

Data sourced from Times of India/; additional content by Warc staff