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ASCI’s latest service aids brands in determining potential ad violations

Mumbai, India – With the aim of helping brands create more responsible advertising practices for their upcoming campaigns, advertising regulatory body Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has launched a new service called ‘Advertising Service’ which gives brands non-binding advice, at a pre-production stage, on advertising claims and depictions to further mitigate the risk of ads being misleading, offensive, unfair or unsafe.

Said service, which will be available for all members and non-members of ASCI, and will be under a paid service.

Part of the objective that ASCI holds with the launch of this new service is that aside from being a regulatory body, they also aim to help protect consumers from objectionable ads. . They also added that the service provides confidential quick expertise to help advertisers make more responsible advertising, which in turn, saves them effort, money as well as possible loss of reputation once the advertisement is already in the marketplace.

In addition, ‘Advertising Service’ aims to help advertisers balance creativity with responsibility and is being offered in line with best global practices followed by different self-regulatory organizations.

“What is quite unique in the ASCI Advertising Advice service is that the Advertising Advice panel will also include technical experts in different specialties who can examine the claim and evidence for technical claim support. It is important to note that this service is not intended to be a pre-clearance, and advertisers may use the advice to better their ads in a manner they deem fit,” the regulatory board said in a press statement.

The service, while provided by the body’s technical team and subject experts, is not a pre-clearance of the advertisement, and neither is it a guarantee against complaints being filed by consumers. However, the service is expected to mitigate the risk of advertising being misleading, offensive, unsafe, or unfair. 

“ASCI will process any complaints they receive against such ads as per its normal process. The advisory panel for Advertising Advice service is completely different from the complaints process to avoid any potential conflicts,” they added.

For Subhash Kamath, chairman at ASCi, the newly-launched service as a crucial element in the cause of self-regulation pushed the body, adding that the service gives brands a chance to better prepare their campaigns and mitigate reputational risks.

“While there is no guarantee that consumers will not raise a claim against a brand, the advisory does help brands take steps to ensure that their campaigns don’t violate any norms formulated to protect consumer interest. We believe that this advisory service will provide the necessary support to the advertising ecosystem to create more responsible ads without affecting creativity,” Kamath stated.

Meanwhile, Manisha Kapoor, secretary-general at ASCI, commented that the advisory can be used by brands to great effect while planning their campaigns as brands wish to be competitive and push the boundaries of claims. She also added that with this service, they can support advertisers to make strong claims while not crossing the all-important lines of honesty, decency, fairness, and safety.

“An external scrutiny by experts at the pre-production stage can add tremendous value to campaign development. [In the] post-release of the campaign, any stoppage can cause significant disruption and cost for an organization. But by making this a part of the way advertisers think of campaigns at an early stage, such risks can be mitigated. We see this as a win-win for advertisers and consumers, who then get exposed to fewer problematic ads,” Kapoor added.

ASCI has long been helping advertisers with proper regulations about advertisements, which included their draft guidelines on influencer ads, and COVID-19 related campaigns.