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Mamaearth Parent Honasa Consumer Ltd Faces Six Times More Cases Than Patanjali Before Ad Regulator

Honasa Consumer Ltd. Tops the List of Advertising Violations

Honasa Consumer Ltd., the parent company of popular beauty and personal care brand Mamaearth, has been identified as the leading offender in advertising violations for the last financial year, according to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). In its annual report released on Wednesday, the ASCI highlighted that 186 advertisements from Honasa Consumer Ltd., which also includes brands like Dr. Sheth’s, Aqualogica, and The Derma Co., were flagged as non-compliant and required modifications.

This development draws attention to the widespread issue of misleading and non-compliant advertisements in the beauty and personal care industry. Examples of such violations typically include exaggerated claims about product efficacy, failure to disclose potential side effects, and misleading representations of scientific evidence. For instance, advertisements that claim a skincare product can eliminate wrinkles within days without substantial evidence can mislead consumers and set unrealistic expectations.

Patanjali Ayurved’s Advertising Controversies

Patanjali Ayurved, led by the renowned yoga guru Ramdev, has also been scrutinized for advertising violations. The Supreme Court recently ordered Ramdev to apologize for making false claims that Patanjali products could cure serious illnesses. In the fiscal year 2024, Patanjali was involved in 28 advertising violations. These included endorsements of various products like Dant Kanti toothpaste, chyawanprash, infection-fighting Ayurvedic medicines, heart medicines, ointments, honey, sprays, and orthopaedic and pain-relief tablets.

This situation with Patanjali highlights a critical issue within the Ayurvedic and traditional medicine sector, where companies often make bold claims about their products’ health benefits without sufficient scientific backing. For instance, claiming that a toothpaste can cure gum diseases without clinical evidence can mislead consumers and pose health risks.

Scope of ASCI’s Investigation

The ASCI’s annual report revealed that it investigated a total of 8,229 advertisements, and a staggering 98% were found to be non-compliant. Major violators included:

  • WinDaddy and Fun88 India: Known for their online betting advertisements, these companies often fail to comply with regulations by promoting illegal gambling.
  • Urbanic operator Maysquare Lifestyle Pvt.: This fashion brand faced violations for misleading advertisements.
  • Rummy and Renee Cosmetics Pvt.: These companies were flagged for non-compliance in their marketing campaigns.
  • Nykaa’s Dot & Key and Sorting Hat Technologies Pvt. (Unacademy): These brands were found to have several non-compliant advertisements.

Sector-Specific Violations

The healthcare sector emerged as the most violative, contributing to 19% of the cases. This was followed by illegal offshore betting (17%), personal care (13%), conventional education (12%), food and beverage (10%), and realty (7%). Notably, baby care emerged as a new contender in the top violators category, with influencer promotions contributing to 81% of the baby care cases.

Case History: In previous years, similar trends have been observed. For instance, in 2022, the ASCI had flagged multiple healthcare advertisements that made unsubstantiated claims about curing chronic diseases. This ongoing trend underscores the need for stricter regulatory oversight in healthcare advertising.

Online Advertising and Celebrity Endorsements

The ASCI emphasized that the highest number of violative ads were seen online, urging advertisers and platforms to collaborate more closely with regulators to protect consumers. Manisha Kapoor, CEO of ASCI, stated, “With the highest number of violative ads seen online, advertisers and platforms must work more closely with regulators and self-regulators to keep consumers protected.”

Celebrities continued to feature in ads that violated ASCI’s code. The report noted that at least 104 celebrities appeared in 101 non-compliant ads across sectors like food and beverages, personal care, betting, and healthcare. These celebrities often failed to provide evidence of due diligence, which is a requirement under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

Legal Violations and Regulatory Actions

Over 3,000 advertisements were reported to be in direct violation of the law. The ASCI reported over 1,300 illegal betting ads to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and approximately 150 ads promoting liquor, e-cigarettes, and vapes. Additionally, the Ministry of Ayush received reports of about 1,250 ads promoting drugs and magical remedies.

Nearly 250 advertisers were flagged for potential violations of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act throughout the year. This act aims to prohibit advertisements of drugs and remedies that claim to have magical properties or promise cures for serious diseases and conditions.

Conclusion

The ASCI’s annual report underscores the pervasive issue of non-compliant advertising across various sectors. The high number of violations highlights the need for stringent enforcement of advertising regulations to protect consumers from misleading and potentially harmful advertisements. By working closely with regulators and ensuring due diligence, companies and celebrities can play a crucial role in fostering a trustworthy advertising environment.

References

  • Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) Annual Report
  • Supreme Court rulings on Patanjali Ayurved advertising claims
  • Consumer Protection Act, 2019
  • Drugs and Magic Remedies Act

Related Case Histories

  • In 2020, the ASCI flagged multiple ads from major FMCG companies for making exaggerated claims about immunity-boosting properties in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In 2018, several beauty brands were reprimanded for misleading advertisements about fairness creams, leading to a broader discussion about ethical advertising in the beauty industry.
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