NEW DELHI: The advertisers making claims such as ‘largest selling’, ‘most popular’ and ‘most effective’ will soon have to substantiate their claims, particularly in the case of health products. The consumer affairs ministry will come out with an advertising code of dos and don’ts, which will help it identify misleading advertisements.
Sources said the ministry is looking into the best advertising codes of many countries such as New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States. “A draft discussion paper will be uploaded on our website for stakeholder consultation. There is a need to have a code for the benefit of consumers and also to help identify quickly which fall under misleading category, otherwise there will be a sea of complaints about misleading advertisements,” said an official.
Currently, the Advertising Standards Council of India, a self-regulatory voluntary organisation of the advertising industry has a Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising, which is not binding. The need for a code by the government has become essential after the centre notified the central consumer protection Authority, which has mandate to act against misleading advertisements. “There is a need to bring the proposed under regulation for their effective compliance. Simple guidelines won’t have the desired impact,” a source said.
For celebrity endorsers, the Consumer Protection Act specifies that the companies engaging endorsers must fully disclose to them the content and claims in the advertisements and they need to carry out due diligence. Countries which have a strong consumer protection regime specify that the focus of such codes is to ensure that every advertisement is responsible, legal, decent and truthful.