The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has published a draft issuing guidelines which focusses at preventing biased commercial practices and safeguarding consumers’ interest.
Titled as the Central Consumer Protection Authority (Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Necessary Due Diligence for Endorsement of Advertisements) Guidelines, 2020, these norms consider all advertising and marketing communications irrespective of form, format or medium.
These regulations are relevant to the manufacturer/service provider whose goods/services are matters of the advertising/marketing communications, as well as of the advertisement agency and endorser (wherever applicable) of the product/service, the draft says.
The draft guidelines suggest criteria for an appropriate advertisement, non-imitation of advertisements, bait advertising, surrogate advertising, comparative advertising, puffery, free claims, advertisements targeted at children, prohibited advertisements, limiting or explaining claims made in advertisements, disclaimers made in supporting, duties of manufacturer, honesty of statements, service provider and advertising agency, and due diligence to be made by an endorser related to the ads, personal use of products and consumer endorsements, expert endorsements and disclosure of material connection.
The draft advises that the ads should not be deceptive to the consumers about who is the manufacturer of the product and must be authentic, error-less and should be able to substantiate; while advertisements containing comparisons with other manufacturers, suppliers, producers or with other products, including where a competitor is named, shall be allowed in the betterment of enhanced competition.
In addition, the draft informs that advertisement shall not strive to tempt the consumers to buy a product or service without a rational approach of selling the advertised product or service at the price offered.
On ads that children are fascinated to, the draft says that ads should not take the advantage of children’s innocence, naivety or sense of loyalty, or overemphasize the qualities of a product or service in a way that could pave way to unrealistic expectations of such good or service by the children and include a direct pressure on children to buy a product or service or to insist their parents, guardians or other individuals to buy a product or service for them.
Also, a disclaimer should not try to rectify a misleading claim made by an advertisement, the guidelines appeal.
The guidelines on duties of manufacturer, service provider and advertising agency declares that they must make sure that the representations and claims made by advertisements are honest and truthful as well as protect against misleading advertisements; make sure that all descriptions, claims and comparisons related to subjects of objectively ascertainable fact should be able to substantiate, and produce such substantiation if needed by the Central Authority.