How ASCI began and why it believes in self-
regulation – 2

Having got the start it did, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) emphasised that advertising is a vital link between businesses and customers. It infuses efficiency into markets, boosts growth and benefits society through the dissemination of information, transparency and by aiding businesses – all
vital in a developing economy like India. Thus, advertising is an essential component of vibrant economies, fairness in markets and as revenue for the media.

At its core is consumer trust, without which no brand or business can survive. This is why advertisers, marketers, agencies and the media – essentially the entire marketing communication ecosystem – across the world band together to form bodies that self-regulate advertising practices. Over the years, their standards have evolved. In virtually all markets, advertising’s stakeholders have created effective self-regulatory systems that serve as watchdogs and offer redressal mechanisms when their code is violated. These systems normally include content guidelines, transparent and fair enforcement mechanisms as well as mentoring and training. The ultimate aim is to maintain and enhance consumer confidence in advertising. It’s no different with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). Its code is a commitment to honest advertising and fair competition, standing for the protection of the interests of consumers and other stakeholders.

  • Truthful and honest: Advertisements should be truthful and honest. They should not mislead consumers by implication, omission, ambiguity or exaggeration
  • Non-offensive to the public: Advertisements should be within the bounds of accepted standards of decency and propriety
  • Against harmful products and unsafe situations: Advertisements should not promote products or show situations that are harmful to society or individuals, particularly children
  • Fair to competition: Advertisements must observe fairness in competition so that the consumer’s need to be informed about choices and the canons of accepted competitive
    behaviour are both served. Advertisements should not be derogatory to competitors or plagiarised

TThe codes adopted across the world in a self-regulatory set-up are essentially variations of each other but the goal is the same: that advertisers are compliant, to produce responsible and ethical marketing communication and to promote consumer confidence. This is the second of a three-part blog series on ASCI’s evolution and why self-regulation works for the advertising industry.