D-Day for advertisers: Self-declaration mandate certification will be imposed from today

Although the Supreme Court hearing is yet to take place (scheduled for July 9), industry bodies have been on their toes to file every possible complaint against the ‘impractical nature’ of the SDC

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New Delhi: Today, 18 June, 2024 marks the final day for advertisers to comply with the mandatory "Self-Declaration Certificate" (SDC) requirement, a move aimed at curbing misleading advertisements and improving consumer protection. 

This directive, issued by the Supreme Court in May 2024 and enforced by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) and Press Council of India (PCI), has sent ripples through the advertising industry.

Advocates of the SDC see it as a significant step towards transparency. Regulators have expressed concern about the increasing number of misleading claims in advertisements, prompting a call for stricter regulations. The SDC ensures advertisers take accountability for the content they disseminate.

Amit Mathur, President - Sales and Marketing, Finolex Cables. said, “Implementing mandatory self-declaration certificates for all new advertisements is a commendable initiative that promotes transparency, consumer protection, and responsible advertising practices within the industry. Nonetheless, we urge the government to consider extending the implementation timeline. It's crucial to address specific concerns, such as whether social media posts and various digital assets require certification, who can serve as the authorized signatory, the legal liabilities involved, and whether advertising agencies can manage this process on behalf of advertisers. Providing more time for stakeholders to adapt will ensure a smoother transition and enhance compliance."

However, the industry isn't without its concerns. The tight deadline has left many scrambling to implement the new procedures. Industry bodies like the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) have petitioned for a delay, arguing for more time to adapt. 

Ambika Sharma, Founder and MD of Pulp Strategy, said “Unlike traditional media with fewer creatives and predictable schedules, digital advertising involves a constant flow of creatives being tested and optimised.” 

This complexity raises questions about the practicality of submitting individual declarations for each creative. She further highlighted, “The process itself is not only time-consuming but also requires detailed information for each ad, including contact details, product descriptions, scripts, and links to the creatives.”

Additionally, concerns regarding the confidentiality of ad assets during the SDC submission process have been raised.

Policymakers, industry leaders, and technology providers will need to collaborate to ensure the self-declaration mandate fosters a healthy advertising ecosystem. Will the industry adapt and find creative solutions? Or will the mandate become a permanent speed bump on the programmatic highway? 

MIB mandate SC self-declaration