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ASCI starts paid advisory service to help celebrities with due diligence

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The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has started a paid advisory service for brand endorsers to help them abide by the watchdog’s self-regulation code and rules under the consumer protection law.


This follows ASCI’s “Advertising Advice” service that it had started for brands last year. Both initiatives are part of its push towards ensuring greater responsibility among advertising stakeholders.





The Consumer Protection Act (2019) places a legal obligation on endorsers to undertake due diligence for advertisements they appear in, ASCI said in a press release. The Endorser Due Diligence, a paid advisory service, will offer ASCI’s expertise in advertising assessment, including technical claims that are part of the advertisement.


ASCI has established a panel of experts from over 20 disciplines, ranging from advertising regulation and law, ayurveda, microbiology, electronics, market research, nutrition, dentistry, product formulations and financial services.


The panel will assess the representations, statements and claims in the ad from a consumer and technical perspective, examine the evidence in support of the claim where necessary, and thus help the endorsers conduct their due diligence.


The advertisements can be sent to ASCI at any stage, including pre-production.


The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, directs imposition of fines or even prevents the endorser of a false or misleading advertisement from making an endorsement for up to one year. However, the legislation also provides for a waiver of such penalties or suspension if the endorsers have exercised due diligence to verify the claims made in any advertisement endorsed by them.


ASCI Chairman Subhash Kamath said that the Endorser Due Diligence is part of a strategy to help the industry proactively navigate the code towards responsible advertising.


“A lot of money rests on the marketers for production and release of commercials. One of the things ASCI has offered is to ask the advertising advice team that will either give a go-ahead or point out any misleading or offensive claim. You can proactively take care of these things to save a lot of headache later on. We felt it was important to extend the service to endorsers, who earn a lot of money from advertising brands. So, it makes sense for them to do their own due diligence,” he said.


According to Duff & Phelps’ “Celebrity Brand Valuation Report”, around 50 per cent of endorsements in India feature celebrities compared to around 20 per cent in the US. The report puts the overall brand value of top 20 endorsers of 2020 in India at an estimated $1 billion.


The TAM AdEx report on celebrity endorsement says that overall, more than 25 per cent advertisements telecast on TV in 2021 were endorsed by celebrities, more than 85 per cent of which were by film stars.


Kamath said that earlier the brand or advertiser used to be held responsible for substantiating any claim. But now there is clear accountability on the endorser as well. “India is a celebrity-crazy country, so it’s important for celebrities to not mislead people,” he added.


Manisha Kapoor, Secretary General, ASCI, said: “While ASCI always insisted that celebrities are responsible for what they say, now there are legal obligations to do due diligence.”


“What we are trying to achieve is to promote a culture of being responsible,” she added.


“Endorsers may not always be experts when it comes to the products they push and the claims they make. ASCI’s service that is speedy, confidential and based on the assessment of a multi-disciplinary panel can help endorsers do their due diligence in a timely and comprehensive manner, ensuring that consumers are not misled and that the endorsers too, fulfil their legal obligations,” she said.

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The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has started a paid advisory service for brand endorsers to help them abide by the watchdog’s self-regulation code and rules under the consumer protection law.


This follows ASCI’s “Advertising Advice” service that it had started for brands last year. Both initiatives are part of its push towards ensuring greater responsibility among advertising stakeholders.





The Consumer Protection Act (2019) places a legal obligation on endorsers to undertake due diligence for advertisements they appear in, ASCI said in a press release. The Endorser Due Diligence, a paid advisory service, will offer ASCI’s expertise in advertising assessment, including technical claims that are part of the advertisement.


ASCI has established a panel of experts from over 20 disciplines, ranging from advertising regulation and law, ayurveda, microbiology, electronics, market research, nutrition, dentistry, product formulations and financial services.


The panel will assess the representations, statements and claims in the ad from a consumer and technical perspective, examine the evidence in support of the claim where necessary, and thus help the endorsers conduct their due diligence.


The advertisements can be sent to ASCI at any stage, including pre-production.


The Consumer Protection Act, 2019, directs imposition of fines or even prevents the endorser of a false or misleading advertisement from making an endorsement for up to one year. However, the legislation also provides for a waiver of such penalties or suspension if the endorsers have exercised due diligence to verify the claims made in any advertisement endorsed by them.


ASCI Chairman Subhash Kamath said that the Endorser Due Diligence is part of a strategy to help the industry proactively navigate the code towards responsible advertising.


“A lot of money rests on the marketers for production and release of commercials. One of the things ASCI has offered is to ask the advertising advice team that will either give a go-ahead or point out any misleading or offensive claim. You can proactively take care of these things to save a lot of headache later on. We felt it was important to extend the service to endorsers, who earn a lot of money from advertising brands. So, it makes sense for them to do their own due diligence,” he said.


According to Duff & Phelps’ “Celebrity Brand Valuation Report”, around 50 per cent of endorsements in India feature celebrities compared to around 20 per cent in the US. The report puts the overall brand value of top 20 endorsers of 2020 in India at an estimated $1 billion.


The TAM AdEx report on celebrity endorsement says that overall, more than 25 per cent advertisements telecast on TV in 2021 were endorsed by celebrities, more than 85 per cent of which were by film stars.


Kamath said that earlier the brand or advertiser used to be held responsible for substantiating any claim. But now there is clear accountability on the endorser as well. “India is a celebrity-crazy country, so it’s important for celebrities to not mislead people,” he added.


Manisha Kapoor, Secretary General, ASCI, said: “While ASCI always insisted that celebrities are responsible for what they say, now there are legal obligations to do due diligence.”


“What we are trying to achieve is to promote a culture of being responsible,” she added.


“Endorsers may not always be experts when it comes to the products they push and the claims they make. ASCI’s service that is speedy, confidential and based on the assessment of a multi-disciplinary panel can help endorsers do their due diligence in a timely and comprehensive manner, ensuring that consumers are not misled and that the endorsers too, fulfil their legal obligations,” she said.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

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