Commentary: Is ISA out to kill its member brands?

Despite being ISA members, three top brands -- Dabur, Maruti and Hyundai -- were left to their own fate when their reputations suffered a significant blow due to the reportage by a highly trusted program

Niraj Sharma
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Commentary: Is ISA out to kill its member brands?

It was in April 2022 when the Indian Society of Advertisers, the apex body of top advertisers in India, asked its members to make an informed decision on running ads on channels which pulled out of BARC India.

An advisory from ISA was issued to the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and all members of ISA after NDTV announced its exit from BARC in March 2022 when BARC started publishing news television ratings after a hiatus of 17 months.

By advising to take ‘informed decision’, ISA clearly meant “Do NOT Advertise”. If members advertise, it would be at their own risk.

As it appears today, the ISA advisory missed writing that if its members “Do NOT Advertise”, they will have to do it at their own risk.

On August 1 and 2, Zee News’ DNA show aired some bitter stories about Maruti, Hyundai and Dabur Honey.

And all this was happening when ISA members were launching their media charter in Mumbai.

All three top brands are prominent ISA members but were left to their own fate when their brands took a huge beating due to the reportage by a highly trusted programme.

Most importantly, all these three brands followed ISA advisory and boycotted news channels that opted out of ‘controversial’ BARC ratings.

Ironically, ISA has no problems with several industry bodies calling out BARC data for its inaccurate representation of viewership.

On face, ISA appeared to be forcing ‘disputed’ BARC data on broadcasters despite visible proofs of manipulations through external intervention and ‘illogical’ algorithms.

ISA does not even consider that the data they vouch for is released by an agency whose two former CEOs are charge-sheeted for corrupt practices.

No other advertisers body in the world gets into such individual dealings between a brand and a media platform. It is an individual brand’s call to boycott any platform over certain differences in dealings and ideologies.

Brands across the world survive on media relationships considering no product is 100% accurate on all standards.

Now that its members' brands are staring at huge losses running in thousands of crores, would ISA issue another advisory stating that their members should take informed decisions at their own risk?

BARC NDTV Indian Society of Advertisers Advertising Agencies Association of India Media charter