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ASCI seminar: Advertising and marketing have to be responsible

Advertisements should be a fair reflection of the products, and be sensitive to religious and social sentiments

Neha Saraiya | Delhi | November 18, 2011

The second session at the ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) seminar held in Delhi on Thursday was on ‘Honesty & truthfulness in advertising - Defining the black and white and dealing with the grey’.

The session began with a presentation by Dinesh Dayal, COO of L’Oreal. He stated that honesty and truthfulness are the core ingredients for a genuine advertisement. He said, “The responsibility becomes more when you are a market leader. And it get complex when you have to market diverse brands to diverse people across diverse channels to make sure that the marketing is done with responsibility. At the heart of what we do is that we were not founded by a marketing wizard but a brilliant chemist. Thus, in our case there is always science behind the products. We have clear defined values that specify what we want to do on advertising and promotion.”

He then pointed out that advertisements should be a fair reflection of the products, companies should be sensitive to religious and social sentiments, and there should be a testing procedure by way of consumer usage test.

Pankaja Agrawala, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, said that obscenity is subjective and it’s a consumer’s choice to decide. “Our mandate is not to curb the freedom of expression given by the Constitution to say what you want to,” he explained. He further stated that various levels of interactions takes place through an advertisement which makes it imperative to have certain norms for advertising.

Swarn Kohli, President, CERS, said, “I represent a consumer’s view. There should be more cooperation where organisations like ASCI and consumer organisations can work together and bring self-regulation.” He stressed on the need for self-regulation with criticality of factors like penalty, prevention and education.

The session ended with the conclusion that there should be a first-level of screening of ads.

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