In order to aid responsible advertising practices and help brands to be more mindful of their claims in campaigns, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has launched an ‘Advertising Advice’ service. The paid service is open to all members and non-members.
It will point out to advertisers and marketers, at the campaign planning stage, if their claims could potentially violate any ASCI code or guideline. This will help them to take corrective action at the pre-production phase and will guide them to substantiate the claim and align the creative based on the ASCI code.
As a self-regulatory body, ASCI aims not just to be an industry watchdog, but also help protect consumers from objectionable ads. For the advertisers, it provides confidential quick expertise to help them make more responsible advertising. Advertisers will be able to modify claims and depictions at the pre-production stage itself, thus saving them effort, money as well as possible loss of reputation once the advertisement is already in the marketplace. The service aims to help advertisers balance creativity with responsibility and is being offered in line with best global practices followed by different self-regulatory organisations. What is quite unique in the ASCI Advertising Advice service is that the Advertising Advice panel will include technical experts in different specialties, who can examine the claim and evidence for technical claim support.
It is important to note that this service is not intended to be a pre-clearance, and advertisers may use the advice to better their ads in a manner they deem fit.
The Advertising Advice provided by the technical team and subject experts will not be a pre-clearance of the advertisement and neither is it a guarantee against complaints being filed by consumers. However, the service is expected to mitigate the risk of advertising being misleading, offensive, unsafe or unfair. ASCI will process any complaints they receive against such ads as per its normal process. The advisory panel for Advertising Advice service is completely different from the complaints process to avoid any potential conflicts.
Subhash Kamath, Chairman, ASCI, said, “As ASCI steps into its next phase, the Advertising Advice service will be a crucial element in the cause of self-regulation. The service gives brands a chance to better prepare their campaigns and mitigate reputational risks. While there is no guarantee that consumers will not raise a claim against a brand, the advisory does help brands take steps to ensure that their campaigns don’t violate any norms formulated to protect consumer interest. We believe that this advisory service will provide the necessary support to the advertising ecosystem to create more responsible ads without affecting creativity.”
Manisha Kapoor, Secretary-General, ASCI, said, “The advisory can be used by brands to great effect while planning their campaigns. Brands wish to be competitive and push the boundaries of claims. With this service, we can support advertisers to make strong claims while not crossing the all-important lines of honesty, decency, fairness and safety. An external scrutiny by experts at the pre-production stage can add tremendous value. After release of the campaign, any stoppage can cause significant disruption and cost for an organisation. But by making this a part of the way advertisers think of campaigns at an early stage, such risks can be mitigated. We see this as a win-win for advertisers and consumers, who get exposed to fewer problematic ads”