The Advertisement Standards Council of India (ASCI) on Monday announced to introduce guidelines for usage of claims of awards and rankings by the companies in their respective advertisements.
Now, brands and services need to ensure that the accrediting bodies involved in disseminating or presenting awards or rankings are authentic and credible, while validating their claims in advertisements.
The new guidelines, which would be effective from February 1, 2020, aim to curb the "superiority claims" in advertising for the products and services based on awards and rankings received, which "sometimes misled into believing" by the consumers, the ad regulator said in a statement.
"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," said the ASCI.
It further said: "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 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, it said.
Prospective students and parents easily fall prey to awards/ranking claims by institutes and coaching classes as they rely blindly on such claims, the ASCI added.
"A wrong choice directly impacts the quality of education and future of children as well as, has a financial implication. In the health services sector, misleading claims about rankings and awards lure patients in choosing the service provider and could hamper patient health, quality of care received and result into financial losses.
Commenting on the development, ASCI Chairman Rohit Gupta said:"Claims such as ranking first 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," he added.