ASCI Issues Guidelines for Appropriate Usage of Awards and Rankings in Ads

Awards and Rankings claimed in advertising to be only from credible and independent bodies, aiming to curtail misleading claims, especially from educational institutes & healthcare services.

The Advertisement Standards Council of India (ASCI) has introduced guidelines for usage of Awards/Rankings in advertisements effective February 1, 2020.

It has become increasingly common for advertisers to make superiority claims in advertising for their products and services based on awards and rankings received. Consumers are sometimes misled into believing that an award or ranking which is given to a brand, product, institute or service makes it superior and /or more authentic. The guidelines will lend assistance to advertisers for appropriate and correct usage of reference to awards or rankings in advertising; to ensure that their claims are not misleading. The guidelines will also assist the advertiser to understand the rigour required for claim substantiation and pitfalls to avoid so that their claims pass the muster with ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC).

The ten-pointer guidelines state that to validate their claims in advertisements, brands and services need to ensure that the accrediting bodies involved in disseminating or presenting awards or rankings are authentic and credible. Awards and rankings used in advertising should be sourced from credible, recognised, independent bodies which employ ethical processes, rigour and appropriate research so that superiority claims made by advertisers are substantiated and do not mislead consumers.

The guidelines are applicable to all advertisers and would particularly be relevant for healthcare services and the educational sector which tend to use such superiority or leadership claims.

Commenting on the new guidelines, Mr. Rohit Gupta, Chairman, ASCI, said, “Claims such as ranking 1st in the state or in India, receiving an award for being the most trusted or award of excellence, listed in some book of world records etc. makes consumers believe that the product/service is recognized and trustworthy, whereas in some cases this may not be true. The guidelines are a step towards ensuring that advertisers are cognizant of the serious impact of deceptive advertising and hence make responsible claims when referring to awards and rankings in their advertisements.”

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