Education, healthcare and personal care are the most violative categories of ads, according to the annual complaints report of India’s advertising regulator for the last financial year.
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on Tuesday released its annual complaints report for April 2021-March 2022, taking into account print, television and digital media as it processed 5,532 ads — a sharp rise of 62 per cent from 2020-21.
It processed 7,631 complaints — an increase of 25 per cent from last year.
Of these, 75 per cent were taken up suo motu by the regulatory body’s own artificial intelligence-based tracking system.
Consumer complaints made up 21 per cent of the pie, a sharp rise of 186.5 per cent, after the launch of ASCI’s influencer guidelines last year.
While print and TV remained the focus, 48 per cent of the processed 5,532 ads were from digital, as the medium takes centre stage with emerging categories like cryptocurrency, gaming and e-commerce.
According to the report, education (33 per cent), followed by healthcare (16 per cent) and personal care (11 per cent) were the top three violative sectors.
Meanwhile, 8 per cent of the complaints were from newer categories like crypto and gaming and the food and beverage sector.
Claiming to be “number 1” or promising certain marks are some examples of violative advertisements in the education sector.
The regulatory body said that 29 per cent of the total ads that received complaints featured influencers.
The top categories featuring influencers were crypto (24.16 per cent), personal care (23.2 per cent) and fashion (16.3 per cent).
“Influencers are also coming to terms with the idea of responsible advertisement,” said Manisha Kapoor, CEO and secretary general, ASCI.
Of the ads processed, 39 per cent were not contested by the advertiser and 55 per cent were found objectionable.
Meanwhile, 4 per cent were dismissed for not violating ASCI codes.
A total of 94 per cent ads needed modifications to not violate the codes.
For instance, in the case of Honasa Consumer Pvt Ltd, the parent company of skincare brand Mamaearth a total of 55 ads were processed, of which 54 required modifications.
In the case of cryptocurrency platform CoinDCX, 45 ads were processed, all of which required modifications.
The regulatory body saw an overall compliance rate of 94 per cent during 2021-22.
Subhash Kamath, chairman, ASCI, said the regulator had followed through on its promise of increasing monitoring of digital media.
“We invested heavily in technology and that has worked well.
"We also upgraded our complaints system, which has made it easy for consumers to register complaints and for advertisers to respond.”