New Delhi’s ministry of consumer affairs is compiling the country’s first ever government-designed code of conduct for advertisers and agencies, in a move designed to curb unfair practices and misleading claims.

The news, reported by the Economic Times, comes as a survey by community social media platform LocalCircles reveals that only 28% of Indian consumers trust ads, and as many as 80% want regulation of misleading advertisements carried out by government rather an industry body. Misleading ads are currently regulated through the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).

Consumers find most misleading ads in the cosmetics products and services categories, with 30% citing them; this was followed by real estate (22%), food and supplements (15%), and health products and services (11%).

Some 21% of respondents said they had both lost money and found their health affected by ads they later found were false; 52% said they don’t rely on advertisements. And 76% of respondents said they believed surrogate advertising for products banned from being advertised, such as tobacco and liquor, should be banned as well.

The growth in celebrity endorsements also comes under the spotlight, with 75% of people quizzed reporting that they have encountered adverts they later discovered were untrue or misleading and which featured a celebrity.

Consumers want celebrities to take some responsibility and have a level of awareness about the brands they promote, the survey finds.

The Consumer Protection Bill, 2019, passed last year already holds endorsers liable to fines and a one-year ban on future endorsements for misleading ads.

“It is imperative that advertising is done responsibly. Consumers hope that the government will look into this matter and ensure that ads which mislead the consumers are minimised,” the report says.

The Advertising Standards Council of India, a voluntary and self-regulatory body, discovered in April alone 50 advertising campaigns by ayurvedic and homoeopathic drug makers that claimed they had a cure for COVID-19.

While the council can flag such misleading claims, it has no power to take action against the advertisers.

The planned advertising code will detail penalties for advertisers, and their agencies and publishers where misleading advertising and false claims are found.

Sourced from Economic Times, LocalCircles