Complaint FAQ

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These frequently asked questions will help you understand our complaint process and other important aspects of registering a complaint with ASCI.

Click on each question to read the answer.

ASCI accepts complaints from everybody. A complainant can be a member of:

  • The General Public
  • The Industry
  • Consumer Organisations
  • Government

ASCI encourages everyone to be an aware and responsible consumer to help in ensuring ethics in advertising. Your complaints will protect you and your fellow citizens’ interests as consumers and safeguard them against misleading or offending advertisements. It will also help in raising the standards of advertising in our country

You can complain to ASCI when you come across an advertisement that is

  • Misleading or untruthful
  • Indecent or vulgar
  • Unsafe or can cause physical or societal harm
  • Unfair to other products or brands

What kind of complaints against ads does ASCI NOT handle:

ASCI self-regulates the CONTENT of advertising for the advertising industry. Even though the following relate to ads, they are NOT covered by the ASCI code and hence we cannot process complaints related to the following:

  • Duration/frequency/volume of advertisements
  • Product or service deficiency cases
  • Fraud cases
  • Refund issues
  • Counterfeit products
  • Issues with content of programme
  • Network quality issues
  • Political, non-commercial government advertising.
  • Violation of law
    • For eg. Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950;
    • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act]
    • Direct liquor/tobacco advertising
  • Violation of code of medical ethics
  • Pop-up stores
  • Spam emails
  • Unsolicited SMS
  • Sub-judice cases
  • Advertisements not meant for Indian audiences (cross-border complaints)
  • Pricing issues
  • Public notices, news articles and press releases
  • sponsorships

In order to successfully register a complaint with ASCI, the following information is required:

  • The name of the advertiser or brand
  • The time, date and medium in which the ad appeared
  • The name of the product or service that was being advertised
  • A copy of the ad or a brief description of it.
  • Your specific objections, including any specific claims/visual frames you have an objection to, and the reasons.
    Your name and contact details (we keep this information confidential if you are a member of the public, and this information is only used for ASCI’s communication with you)

The above details are important because they ensure that we identify the correct ad against which you have an objection. Please note that ASCI does not process anonymous complaints.

As a policy, ASCI does not disclose the identity of the complainant to the advertiser or anyone outside ASCI. All personal information shared with ASCI stays within the company and is used only for the purpose of communicating about complaints registered.

No, registering a complaint under the regular complaints process is free of cost to all complainants. A paid expedited process called the Fast Track Complaints Process is available to members of ASCI only when they raise a complaint against another member.

Complaints at ASCI go through a rigorous investigation before being tabled before the Consumer Complaints Council to decide on the matter. The timeline for taking a decision on a complaint varies depending on the nature of the case. The average lead time for a non-technical case is 15 working from the date of receipt of a complaint complete in all respects. In cases that need investigation by technical experts, the timelines may vary. Most cases at ASCI reach a resolution within 8-10 weeks. You can track the progress of your complaint through our complaints management system, TARA.

Yes, the independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) recommendations are published on our website once the complaint is resolved/ closed.

Yes, pertinent details on complaints which have been decided on by the independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC)are periodically published on our website. A copy of the recommendation is also shared with the complainant and advertiser and can be made available to the Media on request and may be quoted verbatim, with mention of the source ie. “ASCI report on complaints decided by their CCC.”

Yes, most advertisers voluntarily abide by the recommendations of the Consumer Complaints Council. The average rate of compliance is over 95%.

What action does ASCI take against advertisers who do not adhere to the CCC recommendations?

In case of non-compliance with the CCC recommendations, ASCI escalates the matter to the relevant regulatory authority for them to take action as they deem fit. We also publish a list of all non-compliant advertisers on our website.

In order to make informed decisions, consumers need to be protected from disguised ads. When influencers do not disclose their material connection with the brand on their posts, this violates the ACSI code, and the influencer and advertiser are required to modify or delete the post.. To know more about our work with influencers, you can visit ASCI.Social.
A list of non compliant influencers is published on our website.

No, you cannot register a complaint that you have already taken up with a regulatory authority. As a policy, ASCI does not process complaints relating to advertisements which are found to be identical to the subject matter of a proceeding which is sub-judice or has already been decided by a court of law or before any Regulatory authority in India. The onus of disclosing the same lies with the complainant at the time of registering the complaint.

No, ASCI cannot ban any product. The authority to ban the sale of certain products or ban advertising of certain categories rests with the government. ASCI only looks at the content of specific advertisements for products to evaluate if they are in violation of the advertising code and guidelines laid out by ASCI.

My complaint refers to a general observation and not a specific advertisement. e.g., eg. – Toilet cleaner ads playing during meal time/ Condom or lingerie ads are vulgar and should not be aired on TV.

ASCI does not look into general observations around content, placement, duration, volume of advertisements, etc. ASCI can address specific complaints regarding a particular ad.

Surrogate advertising is prohibited by law, and ASCI does not look into advertising that is illegal. The law, however, allows brand extensions to advertise, and ASCI has guidelines in place for what qualifies as a valid brand extension.

Our mandate is restricted to commercial advertising content only, hence we do not address complaints against TV programmes.

Jurisdiction of advertising material can be complex, especially when we’re dealing with online issues. If communication that originates in another country is targeted at the Indian audience, ASCI can investigate the matter.

ASCI does not accept and process complaints against political and non-commercial government advertising. We are a self-regulatory body for commercial advertising.

ASCI is a voluntary self-regulatory organisation, registered as a not-for-profit company under section 25 of the Indian Companies Act. The members of ASCI, comprise advertisers, media, advertising agencies and other professional /ancillary services connected with advertising practice, who support responsible advertising and self-regulation.

ASCI is not a government body. It is a voluntary Self Regulatory Organisation. However, ASCI works closely with the government on matters of consumer protection.

ASCI’s role has been acclaimed by various agencies, including the government. ASCI is recognised by the Cable TV and Networks Act of India. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, took note of ASCI’s work on 2nd August 2006 vide a notification in The Gazette of India: Extraordinary {Part II –sec. 3(i)}, made sure that at least as far as television commercials go, advertisers / brands need to abide by the ASCI code. The amendment made in the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994 through a notification dated August 2nd, 2006 states: “(9) No advertisement which violates the Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising, as adopted by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), Mumbai for public exhibition in India, from time to time, shall be carried in the cable service.” ASCI’s code is also