Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) Health-Related Decisions and Recommendations, September 2015

February 5, 2017

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is a voluntary, self-regulatory organization for India’s advertising industry. The council and its Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) evaluate complaints from consumers and industry which assert that advertisements are false, misleading, indecent, illegal, leading to unsafe practices, and/or or unfair to competition, and therefore violate the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising. In September, the complaints that were upheld against health-related claims included:

    • Amrita Homeopathy: The advertisement’s claim, “Experience rapid, complete and permanent cure with Advanced Classical Homeopathy for Asthma”, was not substantiated with clinical evidence.
    • Ayusya Herbal Clinic: The claim in the advertisement, “Over Three Lakh Satisfied Patients,” was not substantiated.
    • Marico Limited (Saffola Total): The advertisement’s claim, “Saffola Total has 2X anti- oxidant power than olive oil”, was considered to be misleading by ambiguity and implication as Saffola Total shows positive influence on inflammatory biomarkers indicating that it can contribute to protection of cells from oxidative damage, however, it cannot be considered as a “2X” physiological end benefit to consumer. Also, the claim in the advertisement, “Saffola Total gives better protection than olive oil” (Olive oil se behtar hifajat), the Advertiser has conducted human intervention study and demonstrated that Saffola Total has been found to have better efficacy in managing five lipid parameters and three inflammation biomarkers. However, a generalized claim of “Saffola Total providing better protection than Olive oil” is misleading by ambiguity. This is because Olive oil is also known to have health benefits due to presence of anti-oxidant (Vitamin E). ASCI’s CCC also opined that to say that one oil is better than another based on one selected study would be technically incorrect as no single oil can be considered as the best. Each oil has its own profile of chemical constituents that may/may not have diverse health beneficial properties. Health experts also recommend that consumers should keep changing the oil used in their diet to avail of different health benefits each oil offers. Based on the above, the CCC concluded that in the context of the advertisement, the TVC by stating “Isiliye olive oil nahin” unfairly denigrates another product (olive oil).
    • NRD Enterprises (No Fat Capsules): The claims in the advertisement, “No Negative Side Effects” and “100% Safe & Herbal Ingredients”, were not substantiated with clinical evidence. Also, the visuals in the advertisement were found to be misleading.
    • Ratna Siddha Hospital (Treatment for Autism): The advertisement’s claim “Discovered medicine for Autism” was not substantiated with clinical evidence and was misleading by gross exaggeration of claiming cure of autism.