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ASCI launches ‘advertising advice’ service to encourage more responsible advertising

The paid service is designed to point out to advertisers and marketers if their claims could potentially violate any ASCI code

Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has launched an ‘advertising advice’ service to help advertisers factor in responsibility early on while working on creative campaigns. This specific service has been launched as pre-production advice, as a form of due diligence and risk mitigation.

Elaborating on the launch, Manisha Kapoor, secretary-general, ASCI, said: “The world over, this service is extremely popular with advertisers as this reduces the risk of campaign disruption and expensive corrections. We hope that this becomes a standard part of the creative development process in India.”

This is one more of the many changes that the self-regulatory body has brought about in the last year to help Indian advertising and brand owners take more responsibility. This includes new sets of rules in emerging areas such as gaming, influencer marketing and post-pandemic advertising that have been launched by ASCI, along with the launch of its refreshed identity.

How the ‘advertising advice’ will work

  • The paid service is designed to point out to advertisers and marketers at the campaign planning stage if their claims could potentially violate any ASCI code or guideline.

  • The service entails advertisers or agencies submitting their storyboards, draft layouts and scripts to ASCI, along with any technical evidence if needed. Depending on the kind of service requested, ASCI would provide its advice within a time frame of three to seven days.

  • The specially put together ‘advertising advice’ panel has been designed to include technical experts in different specialties who can examine the claim and evidence for technical claim support.

  • ‘Advertising advice’ has been offered by ASCI in the past. However, what is different this time, according to Subhash Kamath, chairman of ASCI, is “the expanded service, which includes a panel of technical experts who can review the evidence required for claim substantiation, so that claims made in advertising are not misleading”.

How does it help advertisers?

  • While this service is not intended to be a pre-clearance of the ads in any way, by using this service advertisers will be able to modify claims and depictions at the pre-production stage itself.

  • “Brands are likely to find it advantageous to include advertising advice as part of their creative development and approval process,” said Kapoor. Any disruptions to campaigns are expensive and can dent the brand’s competitiveness in the market along with reputation damage, she added.

  • This non-binding advice, if taken and followed in letter and spirit, may give the advertiser a better chance to defend the claims successfully if complaints are made.

Keeping the conflict of interest at bay

  • The advice is not a guarantee against complaints being filed by consumers, and ASCI will be deemed to process any complaints they receive against such ads as per its normal process.

  • To avoid any potential conflicts, the advisory panel for the ‘advertising advice’ service has been kept completely different from the complaints process.

  • ASCI on its part has been in touch with many self-regulatory organizations globally to understand their processes and timelines, shared Kapoor. “Their learnings have been taken into account in the launch of this service.”

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