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Liquor brand advertisements appearing in IPL to be investigated by ASCI

Shreoshree Chakrabarty November 3, 2020
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The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has been profoundly keeping track of possible surrogate advertising during the Indian Premiere League (IPL) season, for the past few weeks. For immediate processing of complaints, ASCI has put in place regular updates on the observing of alcohol brand extension advertising, in lieu of its regular weekly feeds. In last one month, complaints against eight such advertisements have been registered which are in potential violation of the ASCI code. These include whisky, beer and white liquor brands. In all these cases, ASCI has written to the advertisers within 24-48 hours of airing of the commercials, seeking a response.

The advertisements selected vary from those who are selling music CDs to packaged water, non-alcoholic beverages and merchandising. ASCI’s investigation is centred around the determination of what constitutes genuine brand extensions and what are surrogates for liquor.

The codes and guidelines of ASCI clearly lays down what qualifies as a genuine brand extension:

  • For a brand extension of a product (liquor, tobacco, etc) to be considered genuine, it must be registered with an appropriate government authority such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India etc.
  • In-store availability must be at least 10% of that of the leading brand in the category that the product competes, or sales turnover must exceed Rs. 5 crore per annum or Re 1 crore per annum in each state it is distributed in
  • It must have a valid certificate from an independent organisation for such turnover and distribution data

According to the law, the liquor brand extension advertisements that possess CBFC certificate, only then can it run on TV. All advertisements are checked for CBFC clearance, so that the Cable TV and Network Act are not violated by them; as cleared by the IPL broadcaster for TV. Thus, the complaints on advertisements have been processed by ASCI appearing in digital, OTT and print media.

Manisha Kapoor, ASCI Secretary-General, said: “We are being extra vigilant because the IPL is one of the biggest marketing platforms in India. We are looking at advertising across media – print, OTT, digital. When we spot potential violations, we ask advertisers to substantiate their claims of their product or service being a genuine brand extension within seven days. This includes sales, distribution and market share data that must be certified by an independent body. Only if they fulfil the criteria for a genuine extension, is the advertisement allowed to continue.  If the advertiser fails to respond within the allotted time, the complaint is taken up ex-parte by ASCI’s independent Consumer Complaints Council.”

ASCI is the self-regulatory body of the advertising industry that has as its members, advertisers, agencies, media houses and other stakeholders. It aims at ensuring honesty and adherence to ethics in all marketing claims and thereby increasing consumer trust in advertising.

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