The misleading ads and draft guidelines on advertising

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In August, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs released a Guidelines for the ‘Central Consumer Protection Authority (Prevention of Deceptive Ads and Mandatory Due Diligence for Advertising Endorsement) aimed at avoiding unfair trade practices and protecting the interest of consumers.

According to a survey by Local Circles, 75 percent of customers claim children are misled in certain commercials for apps, games, and other online services. 87 percent of customers report they have problems reading, watching, and experiencing disclaimers, while 86 percent have noticed inappropriate advertising for children in the last year.

According to the survey, 87 percent of customers find it difficult to read, interpret, and hear disclaimers in advertising. The draft guidelines explicitly note that, in advertising, a disclaimer does not try to correct a false argument made and should be easily noticeable to the user. Non-readable disclaimers may therefore be viewed as deceptive commercials.

For the past 1 year, about 86 percent of users have seen inappropriate child advertising on television, digital platforms or newspapers. Consumers recorded how inappropriate advertisements are displayed between children’s videos on web platforms and how platforms can only feature advertising depending on the web material being viewed.

75 % of customers have come across commercials for smartphones, games, and web products/services intended to deceive kids into buying.

The report notes that the ad should not take advantage of the inexperience, credulity, or sense of commitment of children, or exaggerate the qualities of a good or service in a manner that may result in creating unrealistic expectations in children or provide overt marketing to children to buy a good or service or to convince their parents to buy a good or service for them.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies came with several misleading advertisements for products like Mattresses, soaps, sanitizers, readymade garments, and even food items stating that it builds immunity against the Coronavirus.

Several customers stressed that most of the policies require a transaction to be made for a corporation to be kept liable and the authority to take action and that in many incidents of false ads, steps are prohibited from being taken. Instead, someone who has seen a false ad and mentions the same must be considered a prospective customer, and any such allegations should be considered and enforced upon by the draft advertising code.

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