One97 Communications Ltd. (Paytm) - Paytm First Games

Recommendation: Upheld | Medium: General Public

The ASCI had approached the advertiser for its response in addressing the grievances of the complainants and forwarded the details of the complaints, verbatim, to the advertiser with a request to respond to the same. The advertiser was offered an opportunity to seek an Informal Resolution (IR) of the complaint and a telecon with the ASCI Secretariat to seek further guidance, which they did not avail but submitted their written response. Advertiser stated that “The impugned advertisement is inspired by a true story, and it utters true and honest life events of eminent cricketer, Mr. Sachin Tendulkar's, childhood incident which occurred approximately three decades ago. The narration of this incident has been attributed to the legendary Mr. Tendulkar himself before the media on multiple occasions. It is important to note that the impugned advertisement is not based on imagination or creativity, but is a depiction of real life events. Articles and excerpts of this real-life story, often quoted publicly by Mr. Sachin Tendulkar himself, are easily available in the mass media. The Company has put an appropriate Disclaimer in the impugned advertisement which categorically states that “It is based on True Life Events. Advertiser does not condone violence towards children”. In support of their response, the advertiser provided copies of a few historical media reports covering the story, PPT demonstrating that the disclaimer is as per ASCI Guidelines, Screen Shots of viewers comments for the advertisement. The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) viewed the Twitter advertisement (https://twitter.com/PaytmFirstGames/status/1307577292520996864?s=19), TVC, and YouTube advertisement (https://youtu.be/R168HgvIvtI) and considered the advertiser’s response. The CCC also considered the complainants grievances that the advertisement is endorsing violence, promoting corporal punishment of a child by a cricket coach, encouraging child abuse. The advertisement shows a young boy cricketer being slapped hard on his face by his coach for saying that he was not playing but cheering for his senior team. A friend of the boy who is shocked by the behaviour of the coach tries to take him to his own coach, but the boy goes back to the coach who had slapped him. The boy then turns out to be a super cricketer. The last frame of the TVC shows Sachin Tendulkar saying to the viewers "It’s all about the choices we make. Make the right one". The advertiser is a gaming pro app promoting playing of online fantasy cricket on Paytm First Games. The CCC observed that the visual depiction of the cricket coach slapping the young boy is qualified via disclaimer to mention “Based on True Life Events. Advertiser does not condone violence towards children”. The CCC felt that this will become a precedent for creating more such advertisements on true life events. The CCC was of the view that such a creative can be shown in a biography but not in an advertisement, which is viewed by viewers of all age groups including kids and children. A true life event has been used for selling a product/service (in this case online playing of games). The advertisement is showing violence towards school children which is likely to hurt the consumers emotion. Biography of Sachin Tendulkar is used as an example to promote violence against children. The CCC was of the view that the advertisement could have clearly highlighted that it is based on true life event of Sachin Tendulkar. Based on these observations, by majority vote the CCC concluded that regardless of the disclaimer, the advertisement is encouraging an unsafe practice, and the act shown might result in physical harm of the children. The Twitter advertisement, TVC, and the YouTube advertisement contravened Chapters III.2 and III.3 of the ASCI Code. This complaint was UPHELD.