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New ASCI initiatives to ensure faster, stringent action against ads violating its code

NAMS starts tracking upheld complaints ads to ensure they don’t reappear. Appoints Chief Operations Officer responsible for complaint lodging, investigation, redressal and follow-up process

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | May 24, 2013

Adverting Standards Council of India (ASCI), the advertising content self-regulating industry watchdog, has announced three significant initiatives to ensure faster and more stringent action against all advertisements which violate its advertising code and guidelines. ASCI, through National Advertising Monitoring Service (NAMS), has now started tracking advertisements in print and TV nationally against which complaints are upheld. If they continue to reappear without removing or changing objectionable portions of the ad, ASCI will report these advertisements to the relevant statutory authorities for action according to the law of the land.

To speed up the decision-making process and handle the manifold increase in complaints due to NAMS, ASCI has introduced an additional Consumer Complaint Council (CCC) meeting. As a result, CCC meetings will now be held every week instead of every fortnight. This will further reduce the average complaint adjudication time. The self-regulatory body has also appointed  Shweta Purandare as Chief Operations Officer to drive the investigation of complaints besides heading the complaint redressal and follow-up process.

ASCI Chairman Arvind Sharma said, “ASCI has been continually innovating to protect the interests of the consumers and all these initiatives are steps towards that. The proactive tracking  by NAMS earlier of all newly released ads in print and TV and now of all upheld complaint ads and reporting non-compliance to statutory bodies is likely to help substantially in moving towards the goal of eradicating misleading ads. Appointment of a COO and an additional CCC will go a long way in ensuring speedier and more effective complaint redressal process.”

Tracking of upheld ads through NAMS: If any ad after being upheld by CCC for making false claims reappears without appropriate modifications, then ASCI will report the ad to the relevant statutory authorities asking them to take action as per existing rules and regulations.

Weekly CCC Meetings: With the start of NAMS in May 2012, the number of ads complained against went up to 784 compared with 177 ads last year. This is a five-fold increase. To accelerate the decision-making process further, ASCI will have two Consumer Complaint Councils effective June 11, 2013.The first and second CCC will assemble 1st & 3rd Tuesdays and 2nd and 4th Tuesdays, respectively. Hence, CCC meetings will be held every week. This will reduce the average complaint adjudication time by at least a week. Currently, ASCI is processing between 100 to 120 and through NAMS another 15 to 20 from consumers and intra-industry complained ads per month. So, in 2013-14, the number of CCC processed complained ads may even cross 1,500 which would be more than eight times that in 2011-12.

COO appointment: With many innovative initiatives launched to ensure better filtration of ads violating ASCI code, ASCI’s work load has gone up substantially. Shweta Purandare appointed as COO will play a pivotal role in driving the investigation of complaints and follow up on compliance. With over 20 years’ experience in FMCG/Pharma industry and with a scientific background, she will be responsible for all activities related to advertising complaint redressal process.

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