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13 June 2022
India’s new ad guidelines assessed
New guidelines on misleading advertisements, announced by the Indian government on Friday and effective immediately, are unlikely to mean significant changes for major advertisers, say observers, since they already adhere to the principles involved.
The new guidelines, which run in parallel with existing ASCI regulations, are aimed at “the prevention of false or misleading advertisements and making endorsements relating thereto”.
They set out what “misleading advertisement” means and the criteria for an advertisement to be considered valid and non-misleading. They also provide clarity on what is permissible in “bait” and “free claims” ads and establish restrictions around what can be included in ads aimed at children.
Due diligence is required for celebrity endorsements and surrogate advertisements are banned completely.
Why it matters
While the guidelines are broadly similar to the existing self-regulatory code operated by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the government’s guidelines are legally binding – so any violations will bring penalties.
What might be the impact?
“All large, listed companies have been following guidelines and are driven by the marketing code; so, not much will change for them," Abneesh Roy, executive director at Edelweiss Securities, told the Economic Times.
But some businesses may become more circumspect about recruiting celebrities to push their products, while celebrities themselves may become more choosy about what they endorse.
A ban on surrogate advertising, meanwhile, could affect liquor brands which are most likely to engage in this practice.
Ultimately, however, it will come down to how the guidelines are implemented – and that may mean lawyers arguing over the definitions in the guidelines.
Sourced from The Gazette of India, Economic Times [Image: Getty images]