Standard Of Advertising In India 


“Advertising is a form of communication intended to persuade an audience (viewers, readers or listeners) to purchase or take some action upon products, ideas, or services. It includes the name of a product or service and how that product or service could benefit the consumer, to persuade a target market to purchase or to consume that particular brand.” But today, advertising is legalized lying. Its function is to make the worse appear the best. Advertising is the key to promote and publicize commodities and brands.

The basic idea of an advertisement is to let the viewer analyze whether the product or commodity will be useful for a person or not. The ad has to directly make a positive and cognitive effect on its viewer. But the advertisements that are on air these days lack a solid concept. Many advertisements are so misleading, that in the end the audience wonders as to what was the utility of all the clippings that were shown. Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.

Today the deteriorating standards of advertising are directly affecting the younger audience creating a bad influence on the kids. The advertisers aren’t being able to segregate the time slots and decide as to who is their target audience. It’s all about generating revenue, whether Ads of contraceptives, sanitary napkins etc, are aired on T V channels for small children who firstly do not know what these are meant for, and secondly, they might get curious to know as to what are contraceptives and sanitary napkins all about.

It’s about the right advertising at the right place, for the right people, and not for merely advertising a product for massive economic profit. For instance, the advertisement of the mango beverage Slice, has been associated with Aamasutra (taken from Kamasutra) and in no way has any correlation to sexuality. A simple drink has been linked with seductive gestures which are not needed at all, and especially because this product is consumed by all age groups, including children which might perceive it in a wrong way.

There have been instances where the wrong advertising policies and concepts of agencies have been put to objection by the courts too. The Pepsi commercial that showed a small boy selling and delivering drinks to people. This might seem amusing to the viewers or they may not react against it, but the fact is child labor was promoted through the ad and the Judge ordered to ban the TV commercial.

In India families watch Television together. Where many times advertisements lead to embarrassing situations and show stuff that cannot be watched in a family scenario with kids and adults together. Such as the chocolate man ad where women look at it in a sexual pleasure. And if an ad affects that, then that’s when the complaints start coming – because people are not comfortable watching it with their grandmother, son or granddaughter.

The point here is, to not make such ads that are conceptually and visually offensive. Ads of essentials like Lux Cozy and Amul Macho were banned by the government but were aired again and publicized undergarments as only a material aid for sexuality. So depleted is the standard of Indian advertisements. When an edible oil advertisement gives you the impression that you are free of heart problems so long as you are using that particular oil, then it is misrepresenting facts.

When an advertisement of a water purifier that filters only bacteria (and not viruses) claims that it gives 100 percent safe water, then it is a false statement. When a mobile operator promises STD calls for 40 paise per minute, but omits to say that this rate is applicable only when calls are made to another Mobile of the same company so that it constitutes misrepresentation. Similarly, when an advertiser or a manufacturer makes a claim about a product, he should be able to prove it.

Or else it becomes a false statement. If he says that his refrigerator is the best or that it keeps the food inside germ-free, that claim should be backed by adequate scientific data that substantiates Misleading Advertisements and Consumers the claim. Or else, it becomes a false statement. . Similarly, if an advertisement for a detergent says that it can remove grease in just one wash- it should be able to do just that and the manufacturer should be able to prove this. Or else, it is an incorrect statement or a false advertisement.

In India, the number of complaints to the Advertising Standard Council of India never gives a true picture of the standards of advertising nor does it say anything about the level of consumer dissatisfaction. The reasons: low awareness level and apathy.

The Council along with the Ad agencies should pen down and practically implement clauses to set standards for Advertising products according to the age groups of its target audience and should be allotted with proper timelines and slots on air with correct censorship whenever required to stabilize its impact on people. Advertisements that do not cater to the lower age groups of children should be banned on TV channels like Pogo and Cartoon Network.

Advertising should not only be about generating Revenue but also about generating it from the right audience and not by creating a bewildering impact on the people who shouldn’t be affected or are not the target audience of the commodity. In every genre of the media, newspaper, radio, television, the rules for standard advertising should be formulated.

Shefali Saxena

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