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To prevent misleading advertisements, the government issues new guidelines; surrogate advertisements are banned

To prevent misleading advertisements, the government issues new guidelines; surrogate advertisements are banned.

The Consumer Affairs Ministry’s new standards, which went into effect immediately, also prohibit surrogate marketing and make disclaimers in advertisements and commercials more transparent.

The government issued new recommendations on Friday to avoid deceptive commercials, such as those targeting youngsters or making free claims to entice customers.

The standards also state that while endorsing commercials, proper diligence must be performed.

The Consumer Affairs Ministry’s new standards, which went into effect immediately, also prohibit surrogate marketing and make disclaimers in commercials more transparent.

“Advertisements have a huge interest for consumers,” Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said in announcing the rules. There are measures in the CCPA Act to deal with deceptive ads that impact consumers’ rights. But, with effect from today, the government has issued rules for fair advertising to make it more specific, obvious, and conscious to the business,” he added.

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The restrictions will apply to all types of ads, including print, television, and the internet.

Violations of the new rules will be dealt with in accordance with the terms of the Central Consumer Protection Act (CCPA).

The Secretary of State stated that while these guidelines will not bring about immediate change, they will provide a framework for industry stakeholders to prevent misleading ads even if they are made by mistake, as well as empower consumers and consumer organizations to file complaints against misleading ads.

These restrictions, according to the Secretary, would also apply to government ads. In addition, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) will develop self-regulatory advertising rules.

CCPA Chief Commissioner and Additional Secretary in the Consumer Affairs Ministry Nidhi Khare elaborated on the recommendations, saying: “During the epidemic, the CCPA took measures to stop deceptive marketing. We believed that rules were necessary so that all stakeholders are aware of them and do not break them without knowing it.”

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According to her, the new standards define “misleading advertisement” and include several criteria for determining whether or not an advertisement is valid and non-misleading.

It also clarifies the definitions of ‘bait’ and ‘free claims’ ads while prohibiting ‘surrogate’ or indirect ads.

A bait advertising is one in which items, products, or services are advertised for sale at a low price in order to entice customers.

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Furthermore, the recommendations establish standards to be followed when issuing bait advertisements and free claims commercials, as well as a list of things to consider when publishing ads aimed at minors.

Advertisements should not “create negative body image in children or provide any sense that such items, products, or services are superior to the natural or traditional cuisine that children may be consuming,” according to Khare.

Apart from that, the standards specify the manufacturer’s, service provider’s, advertiser’s, and advertising agency’s responsibilities. In the event that statements in the advertising are based on or supported by independent research or assessments, they have been required to provide the source and date of such study or reviews.

“Any endorsement must reflect the true, fairly current view of the individual, group, or organizations making such representation and must be based on appropriate information about, or experience with, the indicated goods, product, or service,” according to Khare.

She stated that if Indian experts are prohibited by law from endorsing advertisements, then international professionals in that profession are also banned from endorsing such commercials.

The recommendations state that the corporation does not contradict the material claim made in the advertising and does not seek to hide material facts with regard to any claim made in such ads in order to provide transparency to disclaimers in advertisements.

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The standards also require substantial connections to be disclosed.

“If there is a relationship between the endorser and the trader, maker, or advertiser of the endorsed product that might substantially alter the value or credibility of the endorsement, and the connection is not reasonably expected by the audience,” Khare said.

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Khare said that the CCPA had issued 113 notifications thus far, with 57 for deceptive marketing, 47 for unfair commercial practices, and nine for violations of consumer rights.

Following the notifications, 14 firms have withdrawn their advertisements, with the majority claiming efficacy against COVID/germs of over 99 per cent.

According to her, three firms have released corrected ads, one has amended its refund/replacement policy for the benefit of consumers, and another has set punitive measures for its sellers in the event of any flaw discovered.

Three firms have been fined Rs 10 lakh each for misleading ads, while three companies have been fined Rs 1 lakh each for unfair trading practices.

Edited by Prakriti Arora

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