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ASCI launches advisory service for brand ambassadors

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has launched an advisory service for brand ambassadors to help them assess claims made in ads endorsed by them.

The industry body said that the ‘Endorsers’ Due Diligence’ service will offer expertise in advertising assessments, especially technical claims that are part of the advertisement.

This comes at a time when the Consumer Protection Act (2019) as well as ASCI’s code requires brand endorsers to ensure that representations made by them in ads do not mislead consumers.

The industry body said it has established a separate panel of experts from over 20 disciplines ranging from advertising regulation, ayurveda, microbiology, electronics, market research, nutrition, dentistry and product formulation, among others.

Due diligence
This panel will assess the representations, statements and claims in the advertisements from a consumer and technical perspective.

It will also examine the evidence in support of the claim to help the endorser conduct their independent due diligence before the advertisement is produced, it added.

Stating that this is part of ASCI’s efforts to create a culture of “responsible advertising”, Subhash Kamath, Chairman, ASCI, said: “It is the endorsers’ moral as well as legal responsibility to ensure that the advertisements they feature in are truthful and honest, and that claims made in these ads are capable of independent and scientific substantiation.” Endorsers can face penalties that can extend up to ₹10 lakh for false and misleading ads, according to the Consumer Protection Act 2019.

An endorser can also be prohibited from endorsing any product or service for a period which can extend to one year. However, the Act states that, “no endorser shall be liable to a penalty if he/she exercised due diligence to verify the veracity of the claims made in the advertisement regarding the product or service being endorsed by him/her”.

Separate team

Kamath added: “The advisory panel consists of a separate team of specialised experts, and is completely independent of the consumers complaints council. There is absolute separation of powers and there is no conflict. This is not some kind of guarantee or a pre-approval but a due diligence service to point out to potential areas of violation and will be confidential and non-binding.”

Last year, ASCI had launched its ‘advertising advice’ service to help advertisers determine whether their claims could potentially violate its code or guidelines and take corrective action right at the pre-planning stage.

Now, it is extending a similar service to celebrity endorsers and both these are paid advisory services. The Hindu BusinessLine

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