ASCI places additional responsibility on health and financial influencers, extends influencer  guidelines

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ASCI places additional responsibility on health and financial influencers
ASCI places additional responsibility on health and financial influencers, extends influencer guidelines

– Health and financial influencers must disclose qualifications and registration details on relevant  endorsements 

Mumbai, August 17, 2023: The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has revised its influencer  advertising guidelines to place additional responsibility on advertising content of health and finance  influencers. The guidelines, introduced initially in May 2021, aim to help consumers identify  promotional content and make informed decisions on products or services. The guidelines have been  amended in keeping with the rapidly evolving nature and extensive impact of digital platforms.  Inaccurate and deceptive advertising content in categories such as banking, financial services and  insurance (BFSI), and health and nutrition products and services, could significantly impact consumer  well-being and financial security.  

In light of these updates, financial influencers, commonly referred to as ‘finfluencers’, operating within  the BFSI realm, can now offer investment-related advice only after being registered with the Securities  and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Their registration number must be prominently displayed  alongside their name and qualifications. For other financial advice, influencers must possess  appropriate credentials such as a license from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority  of India (IRDAI), be qualified as a chartered accountant, holds a company secretaryship, etc. Moreover,  they are expected to adhere to all disclosure prerequisites as stipulated by financial sector regulators  from time to time. 

Similarly, influencers that endorse products that make claims on health and nutrition must hold  relevant qualifications such as medical degrees or certification in nursing, nutrition, dietetics,  physiotherapy, psychology, etc., depending on the nature of the advice provided. Such qualifications  must be disclosed prominently. 

Disclaimer requirements for health and finance influencers 

The influencer must disclose their qualifications and registration/certification details prominently in  all types of promotional material:  

● Superimposed on the visuals prominently and upfront, or mentioned as the opening remark  in videos 

● For blogs or any text-based posts, they should be stated upfront before the consumer has to  read the post 

● In the case of podcasts or a purely audio medium, they should be called out at the beginning  of the advertising content 

It may be noted that on August 11, 2023, the Department of Consumer Affairs also extended its  influencer guidelines to mandate additional disclosures while endorsing health and wellness products  and services. Influencers found to be in violation of the guidelines could face penalties under the  Consumer Protection Act (2019). 

ASCI’s guidelines pertain to advertising content, where a brand or product or service is being  promoted directly or indirectly, and there is a material connection between the brand and the  influencer.

Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary General, ASCI, stated: “As losses to consumers could be  substantial and serious due to improper advice in the categories of health and finance, it is  necessary that influencers in these two critical categories are qualified to provide advice and  that these qualifications are stated upfront, whenever they put out such advertising posts. A  “one size fits all” approach can be dangerous in these areas and consumers should only follow  the advice of qualified experts when engaging with brands or products in these categories.  Unlike celebrities whom consumers clearly know the fields they belong to, they may not  necessarily know which influencers have the necessary qualification and expertise to provide  the right advice and also inform them of any associated risks. To safeguard consumers from  the consequences of advice from non-experts, these additional requirements should now be  followed by health and financial influencers”. 

For the updated guidelines, please visit the link: https://www.ascionline.in/wp content/uploads/2023/08/GUIDELINES-FOR-INFLUENCER-ADVERTISING-IN-DIGITAL-MEDIA.pdf