Misleading ads: Comply with rules or will refer violators to CCPA for action, says Govt


OBSERVING THAT many “alcoholic spirits and beverages” are being advertised under the “garb of music CDs, club soda and packaged drinking water”, the Centre has warned the International Spirits & Wines Association of India (ISWAI) to deal with the violators of its guidelines on misleading ads with an “iron hand” or it will refer such matters to the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) for “suitable stern action” against the violators.

According to sources, this has been conveyed by the Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh to ISWAI CEO Nita Kapoor.

“It has been observed that many alcoholic spirits and beverages are being advertised under the garb of music CDs, club soda and packaged drinking water whereas the chewing tobacco and gutkha has taken the veil of fennel and cardamom. Moreover, many such brands are employing major celebrities for endorsement that further accentuates the negative impact on the impressionable youth amongst others,” Sing said in a letter to Kapoor.

Singh asked her to ensure the compliance of the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsement for Misleading Advertisements, 2022. These guidelines were issued by the CCPA in June this year.

“Also, there have been instances of direct advertisement of alcoholic beverages on social media platforms as well. It is pertinent to note herein that the above said guidelines are applicable to a manufacturer, service provider or trader whose goods, product or service is the subject of an advertisement, or to an advertising agency or endorser whose service is availed for the advertisement of such goods, product or service regardless of the form, format or medium of the advertisement,” Singh said in the letter dated August 31.

“Therefore, in view of the above, you are hereby directed to advise the concerned to ensure strict compliance of the guidelines by the concerned parties and deal with the violators with an iron and otherwise we will be constrained to refer such matters to the CCPA for suitable stern action against the violators,” Singh said.

Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution on Wednesday issued a statement and said that the Department of Consumer Affairs has “directed” to Advertising Association of India, Indian Broadcasting Foundation, Broadcasting Content Complaints Council, News Broadcasters and Digital Association, Advertising Standards Council of India, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Confederation of Indian Industry, ASSOCHAM, International Spirits & Wines Association of India, and Indian Society of Advertisers to ensure “strict compliance” of the guidelines for prevention of misleading and surrogate advertisements.

“Department has stated that it has been noticed that these guidelines are not being strictly complied with by the concerned entities and the prohibited goods are still being advertised through surrogate goods and services,” the statement said, adding that during the recent sports events that were televised globally, many instances of such surrogate advertisements were noticed.

“The Department also cautioned the advertisers’ associations that failure to ensure strict compliance of the guidelines by the concerned parties would lead to the CCPA taking the reins and take suitable stern action against the violators,” the statement said.

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“Several instances of direct advertisement of alcoholic beverages on social media platforms were also observed by the Department,” the statement said.

“Pertinently, the guidelines are applicable to a manufacturer, service provider or trader whose goods, product or service is the subject of an advertisement, or to an advertising agency or endorser whose service is availed for the advertisement of such goods, product or service regardless of the form, format or medium of the advertisement,” it said.

As per the guidelines, no surrogate advertisement or indirect advertisement shall be made for goods or services whose advertising is otherwise prohibited or restricted by law, by circumventing such prohibition or restriction and portraying it to be an advertisement for other goods or services, the advertising of which is not prohibited or restricted by law.





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