NEW DELHI: The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has clamped down on exaggerated claims made by celebrities endorsing products with a new set of guidelines that will require them to do more than simply repeat the lines they are given by advertisers.

"Celebrities should do due diligence to ensure that all description, claims and comparisons made in the advertisements they appear in or endorse are capable of being objectively ascertained and capable of substantiation and should not mislead or appear deceptive," ASCI said.

It is, however, the responsibility of the advertiser and the agency to ensure that celebrities – the definition of which now includes prominent doctors, authors, activists and educationists as well as actors and sports people – are aware of the ASCI code, Mint reported.

"Celebrities have a strong influence on consumers and are guided by the choices they make or endorse," said Srinivasan K. Swamy, ASCI chairman.

"It's important that both celebrities and advertisers are cognizant of the impact and power of advertising and therefore make responsible claims to promote products or services," he added.

"It is in the interest of advertisers and ad agencies as well as celebrities to be aware of these guidelines and be sensitized to this issue to avoid violations."

The guidelines, which precede a government review of the Consumer Protection Act, also stipulate that certain categories of product cannot be endorsed at all, including those which are required by law to carry a health warning on the packaging or within an advertisement.

The regulator advised that celebrities could seek advice directly from ASCI as to whether an ad potentially violated the code and if they did so they would be considered as having completed due diligence.

"However, ASCI's advertising advice will not be construed as pre-clearance of the advertisement," it cautioned.

Data sourced from Mint; additional content by WARC staff