The ASCI Code

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The code for self-regulation of advertising content in India

To have a better understanding of ASCI Codes you can view or download the PDF documents below.

Introduction to ASCI

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), established in 1985, is committed to the cause of self-regulation in advertising, ensuring the protection of the interests of consumers. ASCI seeks to ensure that advertisements conform to its Code for Self-Regulation, which requires advertisements to be legal, decent, honest and truthful, and not hazardous or harmful, while observing fairness in competition.

ASCI is a voluntary self-regulation council, registered as a not-for-profit company under Section 25 of the Indian Companies Act. The sponsors of ASCI, who are its principal members, are firms of considerable repute within the Industry in India, and comprise of advertisers, media, advertising agencies and other professional / ancillary services connected with advertising practices. ASCI is not a government body, nor does it formulate rules for the public or relevant industries.


The purpose of the Code is to control the content of advertisements, not to hamper the sale of products which may be found offensive, for whatever reason, by some people. Provided, therefore, that advertisements for such products are not themselves offensive, there will normally be no ground for objection to them in terms of this Code.

For the purpose of this Code:

  • An advertisement is defined as a paid-for communication, addressed to the public or a section of it, the purpose of which is to promote, directly or indirectly, the sale or use of goods and services to whom it is addressed. Any communication which in the normal course may or may not be recognised as advertisement by the general public, but is paid for, or owned or authorised by the advertiser or their advertising agency would be included in the definition.
  • A product is anything which forms the subject of an advertisement, and includes goods, services and facilities.
  • A consumer is any person or corporate body who is likely to be reached by an advertisement, whether as an ultimate consumer, in the way of trade, or otherwise.
  • An advertiser is anybody, including an individual or partnership or corporate body or association, on whose brief the advertisement is designed, and on whose account the advertisement is released.
  • An advertising agency includes all individuals, partnerships, corporate bodies or associations, who or which work for planning, research, creation or placement of advertisements, or the creation of material for advertisements for advertisers, or for other advertising agencies.
  • Media owners are organisations or individuals in effective control of the management of media, or their agents. Media are any means used for the propagation of advertisements and include press, cinema, radio, television, hoardings, hard bills, direct mail, posters, internet, digital etc.
  • Children are defined as persons who are below the age of 12 years
  • Any written or graphic matter on packaging, whether unitary or bulk, or contained in it, is subject to this Code in the same manner as any advertisement in any other medium.
  • To publish is to carry the advertisement in any media, whether by printing, exhibiting, broadcasting, displaying, distributing, etc.

To ensure truthfulness and honesty of representations and claims made by advertisements, and to safeguard against misleading advertisements

  • Advertisements must be truthful. All descriptions, claims and comparisons, which relate to matters of objectively ascertainable fact, should be capable of substantiation. Advertisers and advertising agencies are required to produce such substantiation as and when called upon to do so by The Advertising Standards Council of India.
  • Where advertising claims are expressly stated to be based on, or supported by independent research or assessment, its source and date should be indicated in the advertisement.
  • Advertisements shall not, without permission from the person, firm or institution under reference, contain any reference to such person, firm or institution, which confers an unjustified advantage on the product advertised or tends to bring the person, firm or institution into ridicule or disrepute. If and when required to do so by The Advertising Standards Council of India, the advertiser and the advertising agency shall produce explicit permission from the person, firm or institution to which reference is made in the advertisement.
  • Advertisements shall neither distort facts nor mislead the consumer by means of implications or omissions. Advertisements shall not contain statements or visual presentation, which directly, or by implication or by omission or by ambiguity or by exaggeration, are likely to mislead the consumer about the product advertised or the advertiser, or about any other product or advertiser.
  • Advertisements shall not be so framed as to abuse the trust of consumers, or exploit their lack of experience or knowledge. No advertisement shall be permitted to contain any claim so exaggerated as to lead to grave or widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.

    For example:

    • Products shall not be described as `free’ where there is any direct cost to the consumer other than the actual cost of any delivery, freight, or postage. Where such costs are payable by the consumer, a clear statement that this is the case shall be made in the advertisement.
    • Where a claim is made that if one product is purchased, another product will be provided `free’, the advertiser is required to show, as and when called upon by The Advertising Standards Council of India, that the price paid by the consumer for the product which is offered for purchase with the advertised incentive is no more than the prevailing price of the product without the advertised incentive.
    • Claims which use expressions such as “up to five years guarantee” or “Prices from as low as Rs. Y” are not acceptable if there is a likelihood of the consumer being misled, either as to the extent of the availability, or as to the applicability of the benefits offered.
    • Special care and restraint has to be exercised in advertisements addressed to those suffering from weakness, any real or perceived inadequacy of any physical attributes such as height or bust development, obesity, illness, impotence, infertility, baldness and the like, to ensure that claims or representations, directly or by implication, do not exceed what is considered prudent by generally accepted standards of medical practice and the actual efficacy of the product.
    • Advertisements inviting the public to invest money shall not contain statements which may mislead the consumer in respect of the security offered, rates of return or terms of amortisation; where any of the foregoing elements are contingent upon the continuance of, or change in existing conditions, or any other assumptions, such conditions or assumptions must be clearly indicated in the advertisement.
    • Advertisements inviting the public to take part in lotteries or prize competitions permitted under law, or which hold out the prospect of gifts, shall state clearly all material conditions as to enable the consumer to obtain a true and fair view of their prospects in such activities. Further, such advertisers shall make adequate provisions for the judging of such competitions announcement of the results and the fair distribution of prizes or gifts according 11 to the advertised terms and conditions within a reasonable period of time. With regard to the announcement of results, it is clarified that the advertiser’s esponsibility under this section of the Code is discharged adequately if the advertiser and results in the media used to announce the competition, as far as is practicable and advises the individual winners by post.
  • Obvious untruths or exaggerations intended to amuse or to catch the eye of the consumer are permissible, provided that they are clearly to be seen as humorous or hyperbolic, and not likely to be understood as making literal or misleading claims for the dvertised product.
  • In mass manufacturing and distribution of goods and services it is possible that there may be an occasional and unintentional lapse in the fulfilment of an advertised promise or claim. Such occasional and unintentional lapses may not invalidate the dvertisement in terms of this Code. In judging such issues, due regard shall be given to the following:
    • Whether the claim or promise is capable of fulfilment by a typical specimen of the product advertised.
    • Whether the proportion of product failures is within generally acceptable limits.
    • Whether the advertiser has taken prompt action to make good the deficiency to the consumer.

To ensure that advertisements are not offensive to generally accepted standards of public decency.

Advertisements should contain nothing indecent, vulgar, especially in the depiction of women, or nothing repulsive which is likely, in the light of generally prevailing standards of decency and propriety, to cause grave and widespread offence.

To safeguard against the indiscriminate use of advertising in situations or of the promotion of products which are regarded as hazardous or harmful to society or to individuals, particularly children, to a degree, or of a type which is unacceptable to society at large.

  • No advertisement shall be permitted which:

    • Tends to incite people to crime or to promote disorder and violence or intolerance.
    • Derides any individual or groups on the basis of race, caste, colour, religion, gender, body shape, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental conditions, or nationality
    • Presents criminality as desirable, or directly or indirectly encourages people – particularly children – to emulate it, or conveys the modus operandi of any crime.
    • Adversely affects friendly relations with a foreign State.
  • Advertisements addressed to children shall not contain anything, whether in illustration or otherwise, which might result in their physical, mental or moral harm, or which exploits their vulnerability For example, advertisements:

    • Should not encourage children to enter strange places or converse with strangers in an effort to collect coupons, wrappers, labels, or the like.
    • Should not feature dangerous or hazardous acts which are likely to encourage children to emulate such acts in a manner which could cause harm or injury.
    • Should not show children using or playing with matches or any inflammable or explosive substance; or playing with, or using sharp knives, guns or mechanical or electrical appliances, the careless use of which could lead to their suffering cuts, burns, shocks or other injury.
    • Should not feature children for tobacco or alcohol-based products.
    • Should not feature personalities from the field of sports and entertainment for products which, by law, require a health warning such as “………….. is injurious to health” in their advertising or packaging.
  • Advertisements shall not, without justifiable reason, show or refer to dangerous practices, or manifest a disregard for safety, or encourage negligence.
  • Advertisements should contain nothing which is in breach of the law, nor omit anything which the law requires.
  • Advertisements shall not propagate products, the use of which is banned under the law.
  • Advertisements for products whose advertising is prohibited or restricted by law or by this Code must not circumvent such restrictions by purporting to be advertisements for other products, the advertising of which is not prohibited or restricted by law, or by this Code. In judging whether or not any particular advertisement is an indirect advertisement for a product whose advertising is restricted or prohibited, due attention shall be paid to the following:
    • Whether the unrestricted product, which is purportedly sought to be promoted through the advertisement under the complaint, is produced and distributed in reasonable quantities, having regard to the scale of the advertising in question, the media used and the markets targeted.
    • Whether there exist in the advertisement under complaint, any direct or indirect clues or cues which could suggest to consumers that it is a direct or indirect advertisement for the product whose advertising is restricted or prohibited by law orby this Code.
    • Where advertising is necessary, the mere use of a brand name or company name that may also be applied to a product whose advertising is restricted or prohibited, is not a reason to find the advertisement objectionable, provided the advertisement is not objectionable in terms of (a) and (b) above.

To ensure that advertisements observe fairness in competition such that the consumer’s need to be informed on choice in the marketplace and the canons of generally accepted competitive behavior in business are both served.


  • Advertisements containing comparisons with other manufacturers or suppliers, or with other products, including those where a competitor is named, are permissible in the interests of vigorous competition and public enlightenment, provided:
    • It is clear what aspects of the advertiser’s product are being compared with what aspects of the competitor’s product
    • The subject matter of comparison is not chosen in such a way as to confer an artificial advantage upon the advertiser or so as to suggest that a better bargain is offered than is truly the case.
    • The comparisons are factual, accurate and capable of substantiation.
    • There is no likelihood of the consumer being misled as a result of the comparison, whether about the product advertised or that with which it is compared.
    • The advertisement does not unfairly denigrate, attack or discredit other products, advertisers or advertisements directly or by implication
  • Advertisements shall not make unjustifiable use of the name or initials of any other firm, company or institution, nor take unfair advantage of the goodwill attached to the trademark or symbol of another firm, its product or the goodwill acquired by its advertising campaign.
  • Advertisements shall not be similar to any other advertiser’s earlier run advertisements in general layout, copy, slogans, visual presentations, music or sound effects, so as to suggest plagiarism.
  • As regards matters covered by sections 2 and 3 above, complaints of plagiarism of advertisements released earlier abroad will lie outside the scope of this Code, except in the under-mentioned circumstances:
    • The complaint is lodged within 12 months of the first general circulation of the advertisements/campaign complained against.
    • The complainant provides substantiation regarding the claim of prior invention/usage abroad.


Board of Governors, ASCI
April 21st 2012


Advertisements have a significant influence on people’s behaviour. As such, advertisers are encouraged to depict advertisements in a manner which promotes safe practices, e.g., wearing of helmets and fastening of seat belts, not using mobiles/cell phones when driving, etc.


Specifically, advertisements should not:

  • Portray violation of traffic rules.
  • Show speed maneuverability in a manner which encourages unsafe or reckless driving, which could harm the driver, passengers and/or the general public.
  • Show stunts or actions, which require professional driving skills, in normal traffic conditions, which in any case should carry a readable cautionary message drawing viewer attention to the depiction of stunts.


Board of Governors, ASCI
April 1st 2008

In order to evaluate the genuineness of an unrestricted product, or service brand extension of a product (e.g., liquor and tobacco) whose advertising is prohibited by law, The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has decided the following objective criteria to be used to qualify a correct brand extension product or service (see Chapter Ill Clause 3.6 (a) of ASCI code):

Brand extension product or service should be registered with appropriate Government authority e.g., GST/FDA/FSSAI/TM etc.

  • For a brand that is present in the market for >2 years, the following criteria would apply

    • Sales turnover of the product or service should exceed Rs. 5 crore per annum nationally, or Rs 1 crore per annum per state, where distribution has been established.
    • A valid certificate from an independent organisation such as NielsenIQ or category – specific industry association, or an
      independent and reputed CA firm would be required to prove the concerned criteria.
  • Brand extensions which have been launched in the market, but have not yet completed two years must meet any one of the following criteria:

    • Achieve a net sales turnover of Rs. 20 lakhs per month from launch. Such sales should not be to a subsidiary or sister concern
    • Demonstrate fixed asset investments which are exclusive to the advertised brand extension of not less than Rs. 10 crore.
      Such assets could be land, machines, factory, software, etc., in case the product is being manufactured/ developed by the
      advertiser. No advertising related expense should be part of such investments.
    • In case the manufacturing/procurement of such brand extensions is being outsourced, then evidence may include board resolutions and purchase orders for long term (> 1 year) contracts with service providers/manufacturing entities, stating their capacities, and contracted volumes/Rupee value, which clearly demonstrate the possibility of achieving the turnover as laid out in criteria 2B (I).
    • Give evidence of turnover greater than 10% of the turnover of the same brand in the restricted category (including sub brands in the restricted category)

All the above evidence should be certified by a reputed and independent CA firm.

Irrespective of the length of time the brand has been in the market, date of launch would be considered as date of the first invoice for sale for the said brand extension.

If a brand extension cannot meet the qualification criteria, for the purpose of the ASCI code it would not be considered a genuine brand extension, but rather a surrogate created to advertise a restricted category.


Board of Governors, ASCI
July 15th 2021


Communication and advertisements related to F&B can have significant impact on the lives of the public in general, and their physical and material well-being in particular. It is therefore imperative that F&B advertisements fulfil their intended roles, and advertisers adopt strict principles of self-regulation, and not mislead the general public in any manner detrimental to well-being. Caution and care should be observed in advertising of F&B, especially ones containing relatively High Fat, Sugar and Salt (HFSS). Recognising the need to promote high standards of business ethics, to ensure commercial communications to consumers are responsible and the need to provide honest and truthful information about food and beverage products are met, the following guidelines are issued.


  • Advertisements should not be misleading or deceptive. Specifically, advertisements should not mislead consumers to believe that
    consumption of product advertised will result directly in personal changes in intelligence, physical ability or exceptional recognition. Such claims, if made in advertisements, should be supported and substantiated with evidence and with adequate scientific basis.
  • Advertisements that include what consumer, acting reasonably, might interpret as health or nutritional claims, shall be supported by appropriate scientific evidence and meeting the requirement of basic food standards laid down under the Food Safety Standards Act and Rules, wherever applicable.
  • Advertisements should not disparage good dietary practice or the selection of options, such as fresh fruits and vegetables that
    accepted dietary opinion recommends should form part of the normal diet.
  • Advertisements should not encourage over or excessive consumption or show inappropriately large portions of any food or beverage. It should reflect moderation in consumption and show portion sizes appropriate to the occasion or situation.
  • Advertisements should also not undermine the importance of healthy lifestyles or mislead as to the nutritive value of the food or beverage.
  • Advertisement should not undermine the role of parental care and guidance in ensuring proper food choices are made by children.
  • Advertisements for food or beverages, unless nutritionally designed as such, should not be promoted or portrayed as a meal replacement.
  • Claims in advertisements should not be inconsistent with information on the label or packaging of the food or beverage.
  • Advertisement for food and beverages should not claim or imply endorsement by any government agency, professional body, and
    independent agency or individual in a particular profession in India, unless there is prior consent, the claim is current, the endorsement is verifiable, and the agency body is named.


Board of Governors, ASCI
February 1st 2013


Educational institutions such as universities, colleges, schools, coaching classes, etc., which offer education and training programmes, play a vital role in building the intellectual capital of India. Parents place a very high value on the education of their children and are known to make great personal sacrifices to enable their children get the right education. Unlike a tangible product, where it is frequently possible to judge the value of what is being offered by inspection and demonstration, in the field of education and training, the value of a programme is judged mainly by means such as degrees, diplomas and other qualification nomenclatures, recognition, affiliations, testimonials, accreditations, admissions/job/compensation promises – of which, the variety being advertised are many. A significant amount of advertising activity is currently happening, reflecting the vast
variety of educational programmes being offered.


Further to complying with the general rules of ASCI’s Code for Self – Regulation in advertising, the advertisements of educational institutions and programmes shall comply with the following guidelines:

  • The advertisement shall not state or lead the public to believe that an institution or course or programme is official, recognised, authorised, accredited, approved, registered, affiliated, endorsed or has a legal defined situation, unless the advertiser is able to substantiate with evidence.
    • An advertisement offering a degree, diploma or certificate, which by law requires to be recognised or approved by an authority shall have the name of that authority specified for that particular field.
    • In case the advertised institution or programme is not recognised or approved by any mandatory authority, but is affiliated to another institution, which is approved or recognised by a mandatory authority, then the full name and location of the said affiliating institution shall also be stated in the advertisement.
    • The name of the affiliating institution, as indicated in 2(b), shall not be less than 50% of the font size as that of the advertised institution or programme in visual media such as print, internet, hoarding, leaflet, prospectus etc., including television. In audio media such as radio or TV, the name of the affiliating institution (if applicable), must be stated.
  • Advertisement shall not state or lead the public to believe that enrolment in the institution, programme or preparation course or coaching classes will provide the student a temporary or permanent job, admissions to institutions, job promotions, salary increase, etc., unless the advertiser is able to submit substantiation to such effect. In addition, the advertisement must carry a disclaimer stating ‘past record is no guarantee of future job prospects.’ The font size of the disclaimer should not be less than the size of the claim being made in the advertisements.
  • Advertisements shall not make claims with the numerical value of 100% with respect to claims that are abstract and non-quantifiable in nature. For eg: 100% Placement/Job assistance, 100% Job opportunities/ Job oriented courses.
    • Advertisement shall not make claims regarding extent of the passing batch placed, highest or average compensation of the students placed, enrolment of students, admissions of students to renowned educational institutes, marks and ranking of students passed out, testimonial of topper students, institution’s or its programme’s competitive ranking, size and qualification of its faculty, affiliation with a foreign institution, institute’s infrastructure, etc., unless they are of the latest completed
      academic year and substantiated with evidence.
    • Advertisement stating competitive rank of the institution or its programme shall also provide full name and date of the publication or medium, which released the rankings.
    • Visual of infrastructure of the institution shown in advertisement shall be real and existing at the time of advertisement’s release.
    • Testimonial of toppers in an advertisement shall be from students who have participated in the testimony programme, exams or
      subject only from the advertising institute.
    • An advertisement stating the number of passing out students placed for jobs shall also state total number of students passing out from the placed class.


Board of Governors, ASCI
April 21st 2022


Chapter I (4) of the ASCI code states that “Advertisements shall neither distort facts nor mislead the consumer by means of implications or nomissions…” Therefore it is important that material claims, which could have a tendency to mislead consumers, or which consumers would have difficulty in understanding, made in an advertisement are appropriately qualified or disclaimed to ensure that reasonable consumers with average intelligence are not misled or deceived by means of implications or omissions. These
guidelines are meant to help advertisers, agencies and media to interpret the rules in the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation in advertising insofar as they relate to disclaimers used in advertising.


  • A disclaimer can expand or clarify a claim, make qualifications, or resolve ambiguities, to explain the claim in further detail, but should not contradict the material claim made, or contradict the main message conveyed by the advertiser, or change the dictionary meaning of the words used in the claim, as received or perceived by a consumer For example,
    • If the claim is to offer a product or service for “free”, then the disclaimer cannot contradict the claim by seeking some
      payment for the product or service.
    • If the claim is for giving “cash back”, the disclaimer cannot contradict the claim by giving payback only in kind. However,
      the disclaimer can explain that “cash back” can be construed to mean virtual wallet or any other mode of online payment.
    • If the claim in the advertisement is for discount on all products, then the disclaimer cannot limit the offer to only select
  • A disclaimer should not attempt to hide material information with respect to the claim, the omission/absence of which is likely to make the advertisement deceptive or conceal its commercial intent. For example,
    • IA claim of “best food processing equipment in India” should not be disclaimed by stating “for vegetable processing only” or
      “in major metros only”
    • Disclaimer such as “T&C apply” should indicate where this information is available to consumer for further reference.
  • A disclaimer should not attempt to correct a misleading claim made in an advertisement. For example,
    • A claim of internet speed of “up to 10 mpbs” should not be limited to “between 12 am to 6 am only”.
    • Disclaimer for a claim of “lose up to 2 kgs of weight” should not be “when calorie consumption is limited to xx per day”.
  • Requirements for the disclaimers also cover the following –
    • A disclaimer shall be in the same language as the claim of the advertisement.
    • The font should be in the same font as the claim or sans serif and NOT in italics for better readability.
    • Placement position of disclaimers of a claim on packaging should be in a prominent and visible space and should be ideally on the same panel of the packaging as the claim made.
    • The direction of disclaimers should be along the direction of the majority of the copy, such that no rotation of head or
      medium would be needed to read. Preferably, this should be along the natural reading direction of the medium. Exception
      could be for small packs with limited space (e.g., packaging less than 25 ml/gms).
    • For comparative claims, the basis of comparison must be stated in a font size that is at least 25% of the size of the claim,
      which is being qualified and positioned in close proximity of the claim i.e., immediately next to, or immediately below the
    • If the claim is presented as voice over (VO), then the disclaimer should be displayed in sync with the VO.
    • A disclaimer should be clear, prominent enough and legible. Disclaimer should be clearly visible to a normallysighted person reading the marketing communication once, from a reasonable distance and at a reasonable speed.
    • Text height of the disclaimers in television commercials or videos shall conform to the following:
      • For standard definition images, the height of the text lower case elements shall be NOT LESS THAN 14 pixels [14 lines]
        in a 576 line raster.
      • For high definition images, the height of the text lower case elements shall be NOT LESS THAN 26 pixels [26 lines] in a
        1080 line raster.
      • For 4K/UHD images/video, the height of the text shall be NOT LESS THAN 57 pixels [57 lines] in a 2160 line raster
    • In print advertising, the font size of disclaimers shall be NOT LESS THAN 7 point for advertisements of 50 cc or less, NOT LESS
      THAN 9 point for advertisements of 100 cc or less and NOT LESS THAN 10 point for advertisements of more than 100 CC.
    • In static medium like hoardings or point-of-sale advertising, disclaimers should have font sizes equivalent to 2.6% of the
      height of the medium, and NOT LESS than 10 point font size. For large hoarding of 400 sq. feet or more, the font size should
      be NOT LESS than 100 points.
    • Visual presentation in terms of contrast and colour: An advertiser shall ensure that all disclaimers:
      • Be in a colour that contrasts with the background, such that it allows the text to be clearly legible.
      • Not be designed in a way such that the text keeps fading in and out of vision. In such cases, it will normally be necessary
        to place the text on an opaque single-coloured block.
    • Comprehension – Advertisers should avoid the use of abbreviations or words that may not be readily understood by
      a consumer while framing disclaimers
    • Hold duration for disclaimer – In television commercials or videos, a disclaimer shall remain in the screen for MORE THAN 4 seconds for every line, and additional 2 seconds for every additional line. If the claim is presented as a voice over (VO), then disclaimer should be displayed in sync with the VO.
    • Speed for audio disclaimer – In advertisements in radio / TV / Internet etc., the speed of spoken disclaimers should not
      exceed 6 syllables per second, and its volume should be at the same level as the rest of the audio.

The above guidelines shall not be in derogation of, or designed to derogate any other law in operation, or shall not include any information, which by law, shall be required to be communicated in a size of manner other than as prescribed above.


Board of Governors, ASCI
October 13th 2016

New The words “new” or “improved”
must specify what aspect of
the product/service is new or
improved- viz the product’s
utility, function, product design,
package design, etc.
The word “new”, “improved” or
an ‘improvement’ of a product
may be used in advertisements
only for a period of one (1)
year from the time the new or
improved product/service has
been launched/introduced in
the market.


Board of Governors, ASCI
June 1st 2014

Marketers may claim saving for a larger pack, provided the comparison is made without any ambiguity by highlighting number of smaller pack units versus the larger promotional pack (viz., “Save INR XX for a 2 KG pack as compared to four 500 gm packs”). Words to be used “save” and not “off”.


Board of Governors, ASCI
June 10th 2014


While all fairness products are licensed for manufacture and sale by relevant state Food & Drug Administrations (FDA) under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, there is a strong concern in certain sections of society that advertising of fairness products tends to communicate and perpetuate the notion that dark skin is inferior and undesirable. ASCI code’s Chapter III 1(b) already states that advertisements should not deride race, caste, colour, creed or nationality. Yet, given how widespread the advertising for fairness and skin lightening products is, and the concerns of different stakeholders in society, ASCI, therefore, felt a need to frame specific guidelines for this product category


The following guidelines are to be used when creating and assessing advertisements in this category

  • Advertising should not communicate any discrimination as a result of skin colour. These advertisements should not reinforce negative social stereotyping on the basis of skin colour. Specifically, advertising should not directly or implicitly show people with darker skin, in a way which is widely seen as, unattractive, unhappy, depressed or concerned. These advertisement should not portray people with darker skin, in a way which is widely seen as, at a disadvantage of any kind, or inferior, or unsuccessful in any aspect of life, particularly in relation to being attractive to the opposite sex, matrimony, job placement, promotions and other prospects.
  • In the pre-usage depiction of product, special care should be taken to ensure that the expression of the models in the real and graphical representation should not be negative in a way which is widely seen as unattractive, unhappy, depressed or concerned.
  • Advertising should not associate darker or lighter colour skin with any particular socio-economic strata, caste, community, religion, profession or ethnicity.
  • Advertising should not perpetuate gender-based discrimination because of skin colour.


Board of Governors, ASCI
August 14th 2014


Celebrities have a strong following and hence high credibility among consumers. Therefore, advertisements featuring celebrities need to doubly ensure that claims made in it are not misleading, false or unsubstantiated; so as not to harm the interests of the consumers, especially for products or services which can cause serious financial loss and physical harm. These guidelines are developed so that the advertiser is guided to produce and release appropriate advertisements featuring celebrities in it. Advertisements featuring celebrities or involving celebrity endorsements would be subject to the following guidelines:


  • Celebrities, for the purpose of these guidelines are famous and well-known people, who are from the field of entertainment and
    sports, and would also include other famous and well-known personalities like doctors, authors, activists, educationists, etc. who
    get compensated for appearing in advertising*
  • All advertisements featuring celebrities should ensure that it does not violate any of the ASCI code in letter and spirit. Celebrities are expected to have adequate knowledge of these Codes and it is the duty of the advertiser and the agency to make sure that the celebrity they wish to engage with, is made aware of them.
  • Testimonials, endorsements or representations of opinions or preference of celebrities must reflect genuine, reasonably current
    opinion of the individual(s) making such representations, and must be based upon adequate information about, or experience with, the product or service being advertised.
  • Celebrity should do due diligence to ensure that all description, claims and comparisons made in the advertisements they appear in, or endorse, are capable of being objectively ascertained and capable of substantiation, and should not mislead or appear deceptive. The celebrity or his/her agent/manager must give a duly signed written confirmation to ASCI that the celebrity has undertaken due diligence for the claims and representations made claims/endorsements made in a given advertisement in which the celebrity appears.
  • Celebrities should not participate in any advertisement of a product or treatment or remedy that is prohibited for advertising under
    • The Drugs & Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954 as updated from time to time (Link for preliminary
      guidance http://cghealth.nic.in/CFDA/Doc/Acts&Rules/ Drugs%20and%20Magic%20Remedies%20(Objectionable%20 Advertisement)%20Act,%201954.pdf or
    • The Drugs & Cosmetic Act 1940 and Rules 1945: (Schedule J) as updated from time to time (Link for preliminary guidance
  • Celebrities should not participate in any advertisements for products which, by law, require a health warning such as “………….. is injurious to health” in their advertising or packaging.
  • The celebrity can either directly, or through their concerned agency, choose to seek Endorser Due Diligence (EDD) from ASCI on whether the advertisement potentially violates any provisions of the ASCI code and any other legal statutes pertaining to advertising. If the advertisement is developed fully following the EDD provided by the ASCI, then the celebrity would be considered as having completed due diligence

You may contact ASCI at advisory@ascionline.in for seeking details regarding EDD procedure or refer www.ascionline.in.

*Compensated Rs. 20 lakhs or above as per current limit for appearing in a single advertisement or a campaign, or per year, whichever is more, AND / OR is listed in top 100 celebrities as per any one of the current and immediate past list of Forbes or the Times or Celebrity track report of Hansa Research, or any such list which is intended to be indicative and not exhaustive.


Board of Governors, ASCI
April 21st 2012


Awards and rankings are increasingly being used by advertisers to make superiority claims for their products and services in advertising.

Consumers, owing to a lack of knowledge, may be led into believing that an award or ranking which is given to a brand, product, institute or service makes it superior and/or more authentic. Some of the awards and rankings are likely to mislead the consumer by communicating that the product or service is a recognised one, and raise its esteem in the mind of the consumer as evaluated by experts or by a large body of experts, whereas this actually may not be the case.

It is, therefore, accordingly necessary, that awards and rankings used in advertising should be sourced from credible, recognised, independent bodies, which employ ethical processes, rigour and appropriate research, so that superiority claims made by advertisers are substantiated and do not mislead consumers.

This is particularly important for claims made by educational institutions, which affect children’s education, career opportunities and future job prospects. In the healthcare services area, this can severely impact patients’ health and wellbeing.

Key reference for applicable ASCI chapters

Chapter I – To ensure the Truthfulness and Honesty of representations and claims made by advertisers and to safeguard the consumer against misleading advertisements:

  • Advertisements must be truthful.
  • Where advertising claims are expressly stated to be based on, or supported by, independent research or assessment, the source and date of such independent research or assessment must be indicated in the advertisement.
  • Advertisements shall not, without permission from the person, firm or institution under reference, contain any reference to such person, firm or institution, which confers an unjustified advantage to the product advertised, or which tends to bring the person, firm or institution into ridicule or disrepute.
  • Advertisements should disclose all material facts, which if suppressed or distorted, would mislead the consumer by implication
    or omission.
  • Advertisements should be framed in such manner as to gain consumer trust, and not exploit his/her lack of understanding or knowledge.


These guidelines are developed to guide advertisers for appropriate reference to award/s or ranking/s, claim/s in advertising, and will assist the advertiser to understand why ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) may accept or reject the mention of a certain award or ranking.

  • Awards/rankings should not be used as an alternative for consumer or scientific research or testing, which is required to substantiate a superiority claim about the effective use or performance of products or services.
  • Advertisements that refer to awards/rankings should indicate clearly the name of the organisation that has provided the award/ranking and the month and year in which the award/ranking was pronounced.
  • The validity of the award/ranking so used to substantiate a claim should be of a period preceding the advertisement by not more
    than 12 months in case the award follows an annual awarding cycle. For awards that are valid for a longer period, claim substantiation documents should provide evidence of validity of the same. In case the awarding organisation has conducted another ranking exercise, the previous ranks would automatically cease to be valid. In some cases if the year of the award period is self-explanatory, then such reference to the award being current is not applicable.
  • The permission or consent of the person, institution or organisation conferring the award/ranking should be obtained in writing before being used in the advertisement.
  • Photographs of the award/certificate/awards function, or the list of invitees to the award function, is by itself not sufficient evidence to support the award. Additionally, details on the protocol/process followed by the awarding/ranking organisation is required to substantiate the claim.
  • Awards/rankings based on surveys done in one area (say, a city or state) cannot be extrapolated to include a larger territory (say, India, Asia, the world). Institutions cannot extrapolate data to substantiate their claim. Additionally, awards/rankings given in one category cannot be used to promote an institution in another category. For example –
    • If a university is ranked 25th on a national level, it cannot claim that it is in the ‘Top 5’ in say, the North zone, unless the awarding organisation publishes a zonal ranking as well.
    • If the award is given to a particular department of a college or to a college under a university, then the same cannot be
      attributed to the college or university respectively.
  • To substantiate the award/ranking claim, the advertiser needs to give an undertaking that there is no commercial relationship or conflict of interest between the awarding organisation/the research agency/ jury members and the advertiser, and that they are two independent entities. To be specific, there should be no direct or indirect payment made by the advertiser to the institution or organisation granting such award.
  • For a complaint lodged at ASCI against an advertisement claiming award/ranking, the concerned advertiser would be required to
    provide details on the protocol/process followed by the awarding/ ranking organisation for conferring the award/ranking on the
    product/service. This would mean and include, but shall not be limited to:

    • The criteria for granting award/ranking, which should be published and available in the public domain.
    • The process followed, i.e., either via market research or by a panel decision.
      • If it is by means of a market research then its authenticity needs to be supported for the following:
        • The market research agency is a member of a recognised market research association, such as Market Research Society of India (MRSI) or ESOMAR
        • The sample size and methodology adopted.
      • If there has been no market research, but the award granted is based on a panel/jury decision, then in such cases:
        • The credentials and qualifications of the panel/jury judging the subject of the claim made for the brand.
        • The detailed process followed by the panel in arriving at the decision.
        • How many brands/products were assessed? What was the criteria used, and what was the methodology deployed by the panel in arriving at its decision?
  • For a complaint lodged at ASCI against an advertisement claiming award/ranking for a school/college/university/educational enterprise, the concerned advertiser would be required to provide details on the protocol/process followed by the awarding/ranking organisation for conferring the award/ranking on the institution. This should include:
    • The evaluation parameters, which must be clearly specified and the respective scores obtained by the educational institutions
      on each parameter so specified.
    • The parameters should cover various aspects, such as infrastructure, students per class, faculty strength and profile, outcomes (academic results/awards/higher studies), teaching methodology, sports education, co-curricular activities, leadership and life-skills, etc.
    • Only when a multi-faceted evaluation is done, can there be a fair evaluation of the quality of education provided by an
      educational institution.
    • Where multiple parameters are used, the weightages between the various parameters need to be indicated.
  • For a complaint lodged at ASCI against an advertisement claiming award/ranking for a healthcare enterprise/hospital/ treatment, the concerned advertiser would be required to provide details on the protocol/process followed for conferring the award/ranking on the product/service. This should include:
    • Evaluation parameters, which are clearly specified and the scores obtained by leading healthcare providers on each parameter is published.
    • The parameters should cover various aspects such as, infrastructure, number and profile of doctors, their experience and qualifications, patient care outcomes, innovation in treatment/protocols, and impact on business operations or patient care outcomes and medical KPIs.
    • Where multiple parameters are used, the weightages between various parameters needs to be indicated.
    • Where doctor, patient or general public perception is incorporated in the evaluation process, the study should be collected by an independent reputable agency. The sample size and spread, target group definition, sampling method and the field control procedures should be clearly specified.
    • The questionnaire and data collection records should be available to ASCI for review.


Board of Governors, ASCI
April 21st 2022


Online gaming, where consumers are required to put up money for a possibility of cash or equivalent winnings, has become immensely popular.Such games are called “ONLINE GAMING FOR REAL MONEY WINNINGS”. Vast amounts of resources are being spent to establish new brands and new formats in this category. Such games fall under state jurisdictions, and from time to time, they may be allowed or disallowed through notifications or enactment of laws. It is not within ASCI’s jurisdiction to decide the legality
of such games, and objections related to the legality of such games, and the appearance of their advertisements in specific media are outside of ASCI purview, and must be taken up with the concerned sector regulators within the government. ASCI can process complaints regarding the advertising content of ‘Online Gaming for Real Money Winnings’, when such advertisements potentially violate the ASCI code. Such games entail an element of risk through financial losses. Such games may also be addictive
in nature. Some advertisers have proactively put disclaimers to warn the public on both issues. However, there is a need to standardise the same as well as ensure that all advertisements in the category carry the required warnings.

For advertisements of ‘Online Gaming for Real Money Winnings’ the following specific guidelines have been developed to guide advertisers to so that their advertisements do not violate the ASCI code pertaining to misleading advertisements (Chapter I), or of being harmful to society or individuals (Chapter III). These guidelines would be applicable to the content of all advertisements of ‘Online Gaming for Real Money Winnings’


  • No gaming advertisement may depict any person under the age of 18 years, or who appears to be under the age of 18, engaged in
    playing a game of ‘Online Gaming for Real Money Winnings’ or suggest that such persons can play these games.
  • Every such gaming advertisement must carry the following disclaimer:
    • Print/static: This game may be habit-forming or financially risky. Play responsibly.
      • Such a disclaimer should occupy no less than 20% of the space in the advertisement.
      • It should also SPECIFICALLY meet disclaimer guidelines 4 (i) (ii) (iv) (viii) laid out in the ASCI code.
    • Audio/Video: This game may be habit-forming or financially risky. Play responsibly
      • Such a disclaimer must be made at a normal speaking pace at the end of the advertisement and be presented for a minimum of 4 seconds.
      • It must be in the same language as the advertisement.
      • For audiovisual mediums, the disclaimer needs to be in both the audio and visual formats.
      • The disclaimer should be presented in a way that is clear from other actions/effects/claims/text/audio that may distract the consumer.
  • The advertisements should not present ‘Online Gaming for Real Money Winnings’ as an income opportunity or an alternative
    employment option
  • The advertisement should not suggest that a person engaged in gaming activity is in any way more successful as compared to others


Board of Governors, ASCI
April 21st 2022



An Influencer is someone who has access to an audience and the power to affect their audiences’ purchasing decisions or opinions about a product, service, brand or experience, because of the influencer’s authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with their audience.

Virtual Influencer

Virtual influencers, are fictional computer generated ‘people’ or avatars who have the realistic characteristics, features and personalities of humans, and behave in a similar manner as influencers.

Material connection

A material connection is any connection between an advertiser and influencer that may affect the weight or credibility of the representation made by the influencer. Material connection could include, but is not limited to benefits and incentives, such as monetary or other compensation, free products with or without any conditions attached including those received unsolicited, discounts, gifts, contest and sweepstakes entries, trips or hotel stays, media barters, coverage, awards, or any family or employment relationship, etc.

Digital media

Digital Media is defined as a means of communication that can be transmitted over the internet or digital networks, and includes communication received, stored, transmitted, edited or processed by a digital media platform. Digital media includes but is not limited to:

  • Internet (advergames, sponsored posts, branded content, promotional blogs, paid-for links, gamification, in-game advertising,
    teasers, viral advertising, augmented reality, native advertising, connected devices, influencers, etc.)
  • On-demand across platforms, including near video on demand, subscription video on demand, near movie on demand, free video on demand, transactional video on demand, advertising video on demand, video on demand, pay per view, etc.
  • Mobile broadcast, mobile, communications content, websites, blogs, apps, etc./digital TV (including digital video broadcasting, handheld and terrestrial), etc.
  • NSTV (non-standard television)
  • DDHE (digital delivery home entertainment)
  • DTT (digital terrestrial television)


As digital media becomes increasingly pervasive and more consumers start to consume advertising on various digital platforms, it has become important to understand the peculiarities of these advertisements and the way consumers view them. With lines between content and advertisements becoming blurry, it is critical that consumers must be able to distinguish when something is being promoted with an intention to influence their opinion or behaviour for an immediate or eventual commercial gain. Consumers may view such messages without realising the commercial intent of these, and that becomes inherently misleading, and in violation
of clause 1.4 (misleading by omission) and 1.5 (abuse trust of consumers or exploit their lack of experience or knowledge).


  • Disclosure

    All advertisements published by social media influencers or their representatives, on such influencers’ accounts must carry a
    disclosure label that clearly identifies it as an advertisement.

    • The following criteria must be used to determine if disclosure is required:
      • Disclosure is required if there is any material connection between the advertiser and the influencer.
      • Material connection is not limited to monetary compensation. Disclosure is required if there is anything of value given to
        mention or talk about the advertiser’s product or service. For example: If the advertiser or its agents gives free or discounted
        products or service, or other perks, and then the influencer mentions one of its products or services, a disclosure is needed
        even if they were not specifically asked to talk about that product or service.
      • Disclosures are required even if the evaluations are unbiased or fully originated by the influencer, so long as there is a material connection between the advertiser and influencer.
      • If there is no material connection and the influencer is telling people about a product or service they bought and happen
        to like, that is not considered to be an advertisement and no disclosure is required on such posts.
    • Disclosure must be upfront and prominent so that it is not missed byan average consumer
      • It should be placed in a manner that is hard to miss.
      • Disclosures are likely to be missed if they appear only on an ABOUT ME or profile page, or bios, at the end of posts or
        videos, or anywhere that requires a person to click MORE.
      • Disclosure should not be buried in a group of hashtags or links.
      • Using a platform’s disclosure tool should be considered in addition to an influencer’s own disclosure.
      • If the advertisement is only a picture or video post without accompanying text (such as Instagram stories or Snapchat), the discloser label needs to be superimposed over the picture/video, and it should be ensured that the average consumer is able to see it clearly.
        • For videos that last 15 seconds or lesser, the disclosure label must stay for a minimum of 3 seconds.
        • For videos longer than 15 seconds, but less than 2 minutes, the disclosure label should stay for 1/3rd the length of the video.
        • For videos which are 2 minutes or longer, the disclosure label must stay for the entire duration of the section in which the promoted brand or its features, benefits etc., are mentioned.
      • In live streams, the disclosure label should be announced at the beginning and the end of the broadcast. If the post continues
        to be visible after the live stream is over, appropriate disclosure must be added to the text/caption.
      • In the case of audio media, the disclosure must be clearly announced at the beginning and at the end of the audio, and
        before and after every break that is taken in between.
    • The disclosure must be made in a manner that is well understood by an average consumer.
      • Following is the list of disclosure labels permitted. Any one or more can be used:
        • Advertisement
        • Ad
        • Sponsored
        • Collaboration
        • Partnership
        • Employee
        • Free gift
        • “Paid Partnership” tag on Instagram
        • Affiliate
        • “Includes Paid Promotion” tag on YouTube
      • The disclosure should be in English OR in the language as the advertisement itself, in a way that is easy for an average
        consumer to understand.
    • A virtual influencer must additionally disclose to consumers that they are not interacting with a real human being. This disclosure must be upfront and prominent.
    • Responsibility of disclosure of material connection and also of the content of advertisement is upon the advertiser for whose product or service the advertisement is, and also upon the influencer. For clarity, where advertiser has a material connection with the influencer, advertiser’s responsibility will be to ensure that the posted influencer advertisement is in line with the ASCI code and its guidelines. While the influencer shall be responsible for making disclosures required under the guidelines, the advertiser, shall, where needed, call upon the influencer to delete or edit an advertisement or the disclosure label to adhere to the ASCI Code and Guidelines.
  • Due Diligence

    The influencers are advised to review and satisfy themselves that the advertiser is in a position to substantiate the claims made in the advertisement.

Addendum (Date 15.07.2021)

If an influencer/advertiser disputes that the piece of communication in question is not an advertisement as there is no aterial connection, the following evidence will be required to be submitted to ASCI:

  • A declaration from the advertiser stating that there is no material connection between them and the influencer as on the date of the post. This declaration needs to be signed by a senior member of the advertiser’s organisation such as the Marketing Head, Legal/ Compliance Head, and Digital Marketing Head or similar.
  • In the event that the advertiser of the brand featured is difficult to trace in spite of reasonable efforts, or if the piece of communication features brands of multiple advertisers, then proof of purchase of featured products and brands, provided by the influencer, would be considered adequate evidence to refute material connection.


Board of Governors, ASCI
April 21st 2022


A Virtual Digital Asset (VDA) has been defined as any information or code or number or token (not being Indian currency or foreign currency), generated through cryptographic means or otherwise, by whatever name called, providing a digital representation of value exchanged with or without consideration, with the promise or representation of having inherent value, or functions as a store of value or a unit of account including its use in any financial transaction or investment, but not limited to investment scheme, and can be transferred, stored or traded electronically.

These products are more commonly referred to as “crypto products” or Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

Such products are a relatively new and an evolving form of investments. There is a need to protect consumer/investor interests, as users may not be aware of risks arising from this form of trading and investment. The market for VDAs is not regulated and can be very volatile, since it is usually not backed by any tangible assets. In order to ensure that consumers who deal in VDA
products are fully aware of the risks, and are not misled, ads must comply with the ASCI “Guidelines for Virtual Digital Assets and Linked Services”, so as not to Violate Chapter 1 of the ASCI code, particularly clauses 1.1, 1.4, 1.5. that require advertisements to be truthful, and not mislead consumers by implication, ambiguity, exaggeration or omission, and not framed in a way that abuse their trust or exploit their lack of knowledge.


  • All ads for VDA products and VDA exchanges, or featuring VDAs, must carry the following disclaimer.

    “Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions.”

    Such a disclaimer must be made in the following manner so that it is PROMINENT and UNMISSABLE by an average consumer:

    • In print or static, equal to at least 1/5th of the advertising space at the bottom of the advertisement in an easy-to-read font, against a plain background, and to the maximum font size afforded by the space.
    • In video, the disclaimer should be placed at the end of the advertisement against a plain background. A voiceover must
      accompany the disclaimer in text. The voiceover should be at a normal speaking pace and must not be hurried. In the case of long
      format video of over two minutes, the said disclaimer should be repeated at the beginning and at the end of the video. The disclaimer must remain on screen for a minimum of five seconds.
    • In audio, the disclaimer must be spoken at the end of the advertisement. The voiceover should be at a normal speaking pace
      and must not be hurried. In the case of long format audio of over 90 seconds, the said disclaimer should be repeated at the beginning and at the end of the audio.
    • In social media posts, such a disclaimer must be carried in both – the caption as well as any picture or video attachments. The disclaimer within the caption must be placed upfront at the beginning of the post. Where social media posts or advertisements have restrictions on text in the static picture, the disclaimer must be carried upfront in the caption before the fold.
    • In disappearing stories or posts unaccompanied by text, the said disclaimer will need to be voiced at the end of the story in the manner laid out in points (a) or (b) above. If the video is 15 seconds or lesser, then the disclaimer may be carried in a prominent and visible manner as an overlay.
    • In formats where there is a limit on characters, the following shortened disclaimer must be used “Crypto products and NFT’s are
      unregulated and risky” followed by a link to the full disclaimer.
    • The disclaimer must be made in the dominant language of the advertisement
    • In addition to the above, all disclaimers must meet the minimum requirements laid down in the ASCI guidelines for disclaimers.
  • The words “currency”, “securities”, “custodian” and “depositories” may not be used in advertisements of VDA products or services as consumers associate these terms with regulated products.
  • The information contained in advertisements shall not contradict the information or warnings that the regulated entities provide to customers in the marketing of VDA products from time to time.
  • Advertisements that provide information on the cost or profitability of VDA products shall contain clear, accurate, sufficient and updated information. For example, “zero cost” will need to include all costs that the consumer might reasonably associate with the offer or transaction.
  • Information on past performance shall not be provided in any partial or biased manner. Returns for periods of less than 12 months shall not be included.
  • Every advertisement for VDA products must clearly give out the name of the advertiser and provide an easy way to contact them
    (phone number or email). This information should be presented in a manner that is easily understood by the average consumer.
  • No advertisement for VDA products or exchanges may show a minor, or someone who appears to be a minor, directly dealing with the product, or talking about the product.
  • No advertisement may show that VDA products or VDA trading could be a solution to money problems, personality problems or
    other such drawbacks.
  • No advertisement shall contain statements that promise or guarantee future increase in profits.
  • No advertisement may show that understanding VDA products is so easy that consumers do not have to think twice about investing.
    Nothing in the ad should downplay the risks associated with the category
  • VDA products may not be compared to any other asset class which is regulated.
  • Since this is a risky category, celebrities or prominent personalities who appear in VDA advertisements must take special care to ensure that they have done their due diligence about the statements and claims made in the advertisement, so as not to mislead consumers.

The guidelines will be applicable to all advertisements released or published on or after 1st April 2022. Advertisers and media owners must also ensure that all earlier advertisements must not appear in the public domain unless they comply with the guidelines, post 15th April 2022.


Board of Governors, ASCI
February 23rd 2022


The guidelines on harmful stereotyping follow the release of ASCI’s study GenderNext, conducted along with Futurebrands in October 2021. The study examined the depiction of women in advertising and identified several stereotypes and tropes. While the report encourages advertisers and creators to demonstrate more progressive roles based on the insights revealed, it also dentified some stereotypical depictions that could negatively reinforce how people think they should look and behave, and how others think they should look and behave, based on their gender. This can have negative consequences for individuals and for society as a whole,
and over a period of time. As society progresses and evolves, norms on what is acceptable to consumers and other stakeholders also evolve. While harmful stereotypes are not only present in advertising, and advertising is not the only factor that reinforces these stereotypes, it is important for advertising to play its rightful role and not contribute to the perpetuation of such stereotypes.

As the gender landscape is a complex issue, the following guidelines provide a specific interpretation of ASCI Chapter III (against harmful situations) as it relates to harmful gender stereotyping. While the guidelines lay down the boundaries of what is unacceptable, advertisers and creators are encouraged to be inspired by the spirit of the GenderNext report and deploy the SEA framework and the 3S checklist to create more progressive gender depictions when it comes to the depiction of women. (https://ascionline.in/gendernextreport/index.html)



  • ASCI will consider an ad’s likely impact when taken as a whole, and in context
  • ASCI will consider stereotypes from the perspective of the group of individuals being stereotyped.
  • The use of humour or banter is not likely to overcome the underlying issue of such harmful stereotypes.
  • The guidelines do not intend to prevent ads from featuring:
    • glamorous, attractive, successful, aspirational or healthy people or lifestyles;
    • one gender only, including in advertisements for products developed for and aimed at a particular gender;
    • gender stereotypes as a means to challenge their harmful effects.

Advertisements must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm or serious or widespread offence.

  • While advertisements may feature people undertaking genderstereotypical roles e.g., a woman cleaning the house or a man going to
    an office, or displaying gender-stereotypical characteristics e.g., a man being assertive or a woman being sensitive to others’ needs, they must not suggest that stereotypical roles or characteristics are:

    • always uniquely associated with a particular gender
    • the only options available to a particular gender
    • never carried out, or displayed by, another gender(s).
    • Advertisements that are aimed at or depict children may target and feature a specific gender, but should not convey that a particular children’s product, pursuit, behaviour, or activity, including choice of play or career, is inappropriate for one or another gender(s). For example, ads suggesting that a boy’s stereotypical personality should be “daring” or that a girl’s stereotypical personality should be “caring”, or someone chiding a boy playing with dolls or girls from jumping around, because it is not the typical activity associated with the gender, are likely to be problematic.
  • While advertisements may feature glamorous and attractive people, they must not suggest that an individual’s happiness or emotional wellbeing depends on conforming to these idealised gender-stereotypical body shapes or physical features.
  • Advertisements should not mock people for not conforming to gender stereotypes, their sexual orientation or gender identity, including in a context that is intended to be humorous, hyperbolic or exaggerated. For example, an ad may not belittle a man for carrying out stereotypically female roles or tasks or make fun of a same-sex relationship.
  • Advertisements should not reinforce unrealistic and undesirable gender ideals or expectations. For example, an advertisement must not depict a man with his feet up and family members creating a mess around a home, while a woman is solely responsible for cleaning up the mess, or a woman overly grateful for the man helping her in everyday chores. Similarly, a woman returning from work may not be shown as solely responsible for doing household duties, while others around her are at leisure.
  • An advertisement may not suggest that a person fails to achieve a task specifically because of their gender e.g., a man’s inability to change nappies; or a woman’s inability to park a car. In categories that usually target a particular gender, care must be taken to not depict condescension towards any other gender, or show them as incapable of understanding the product or unable to make decisions. This does not prevent the advertisement from showing these stereotypes as a means to challenge them.
  • Where an advertisement features a person with a physique or physical characteristics that do not match an ideal stereotype associated with their gender, the advertisement should not imply that their physique or physical characteristics are a significant reason for them not being successful, for example, in their romantic, social or professional lives. For example, an ad may not suggest that a man who is short, a woman who is dark, or any individual who is overweight has difficulty finding a job or a partner due to this aspect of their physique.
  • Advertisements should not indulge in the sexual objectification of characters of any gender or depict people in a sexualised and objectified way for the purposes of titillating viewers. This would include the use of language or visual treatments in contexts wholly irrelevant to the product. For example, an online takeaway service featuring an image of a woman wearing lingerie lying back in a provocative pose behind various fast-food items would be considered problematic. Even though the image may not be sexually explicit, by using a suggestive image of a woman that bears no relevance to the advertised product, the ad would be considered objectifying women by presenting them as sexual objects, and therefore is a gender stereotype that is likely to cause
  • No gender should be encouraged to exert domination or authority over the other(s) by means of overt or implied threats, actual force, or through the use of demeaning language or tone. Advertisements cannot provoke or trivialise violence (physical or emotional), unlawful or anti-social behaviour based on gender. Additionally, advertisements should not encourage or normalise voyeurism, eve-teasing, stalking, emotional or physical harassment or any similar offences. This does not prevent the advertisement from showing these depictions as a means to challenge them.


Board of Governors, ASCI
June 8th 2022