Right advice at ad planning stage can mitigate risks and build trust

Published on December 02, 2021


Advertisements are fun to watch. The creativity, the spunk, the sheer talent and wit that advertisers bring to their craft are a joy to behold. They tell you interesting stories and make their product desirable within 30 seconds or under a minute – and that’s very tough work.

Ad makers are often compared to filmmakers, but the latter get an hour and a half or lots more to tell their stories. The ad man, on the other hand, has seconds. Therefore, the pressure on ad creators is greater – what you put out has to be interesting, must mention the benefits of the product, has to hook the viewer and it must be factual. While, as creative professionals, we tend to push the envelope to make our offers appealing, it can backfire and result in loss of reputation. Here’s when an unbiased opinion from experts can save time and avoid a crisis.

A complex, multi-layered process


A successful advertising campaign takes a ton of work. There are a number of people and departments that work in sync. Reaching the target audience involves intensive market research about its preferences and how best to reach it – its platform of choice and, therefore, the brand’s too. And this is just the beginning.

You need to have your messaging figured out along with budgets. Then comes the creative team, which decides how best to present those messages. Next, if it is a video advertisement, there’s the casting, the shooting and the final edit.

Imagine, after all this, your work is flagged by consumers for being misleading. This hurts, not just in terms of time and money lost but also the damage to your reputation. It’s much more than man hours down the drain or returning to the drawing board.

Risk mitigation is the key

Wouldn’t it be ideal, then, if you could minimize risks at the planning stage itself? How good would it be if you could consult with experts before production begins? At times, creative people are so involved in making the ad that they cannot view it objectively. But that’s not how audiences and regulators see it. So, there must be greater due diligence when the brand’s reputation is involved. Ensuring that the messaging and portrayal do not violate any codes or guidelines is critical.

Consumers today are more vocal and empowered than ever before. In such a scenario, errant brands can pay a heavy price. So, balancing creativity with honesty and accuracy is the key.

In this backdrop, running the ad concept and messaging by an advisory – essentially a panel of experts – can save advertisers great heartburn, money, time and reputation.

Help is at hand

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has a wealth of experience accumulated over the past 35 years. Its plan to help brands, advertisers and marketers with a specialized advisory service to streamline the ad making process when it comes to compliance with norms and guidelines is a hugely positive step. With its specially-constituted panel of experts, ASCI will help brands mitigate the risks at the campaign planning stage itself

The advisory service is a paid one, yet truly democratic in nature. It is not mandatory and neither is it a guarantee that consumers will not complain against the ad. Not intended to be a pre-clearance, advertisers can choose to accept the experts’ recommendations or reject them. If at all there are any complaints against the ad after its release, ASCI will process them through its Consumer Complaints Council in the regular manner. The service will help brands achieve the balance between marketing objectives, creativity and responsibility towards consumer and is a safeguard against irresponsible claims going out into the market – it will create a safer environment for consumers and ensure that the advertisers #getitright.

An area of particular focus is digital advertisements, against which we have seen a number of complaints. In this post-pandemic world, we are exposed to more digital marketing than ever before. In such a situation, the advisory becomes even more important – not just for viewers but for brands as well.

ASCI wants to ensure that, along with protecting consumers’ interests, brands minimize their risks too. So, the advisory service is a win-win for all. If adopted as an industry practice, it would be a big step towards minimizing complaints against ads and will make the industry an even more responsible space.