The central government on Friday announced new guidelines under the Consumer Protection Act to curb misleading advertising. These guidelines oblige celebrity supporters to disclose their material interest in the product they endorse, prohibit substitute advertising, and also establish rules that should govern advertising targeting children or children’s products.
These new Misleading Advertising Prevention Rules and Misleading Advertising Notices, 2022 – effective immediately – establish conditions that must be met when issuing bait or free claim advertising. Bait advertising means an advertisement in which goods, products or services are offered for sale at a relatively low price in order to attract consumers.
“It’s been shown that companies that offer free offers often limit them to just a few items or impose conditions on claiming the offer. This should be discouraged,” said Consumer Minister Rohit Kumar Singh when the guidelines were released.
For advertisements targeting children or child-related products, the guidelines state categorically that such advertisements must not be in a way that develops negative body image in children or suggests that the product is better than the natural or traditional food that is sold child could be consume.
“Advertising is of great interest to consumers. The law includes provisions on how to deal with misleading advertising that affects consumer rights. said Singh.
This policy applies to ads published across all media platforms including print, television and online.
Both state and private advertisements are to be covered by the new set of rules. “The regulations define a seller and whoever they are — government or private — is covered by the regulations,” Singh said.
Individuals violating the new guidelines will be treated under the terms of the Central Consumer Protection Act (CCPA).
The guidelines also state that manufacturers, service providers, advertisers or advertising agencies making claims based on independent research or studies should clearly identify the source and date of that independent research so as not to mislead consumers.
Regarding celebrity endorsements, the guidelines state that all celebrities endorsing a product must conduct due diligence on the product before agreeing to endorse it.
“The advertisement must reflect the true, reasonably current opinion of the person, group or organization making such representation and must be based on reasonable information about or experience with the identified goods, products or services,” the guidelines state.
For transparency of disclaimers in ads, the guidelines state that the company should neither contradict the material claim made in the ad nor attempt to hide material information related to any claim made therein.
“Disclaimers should also be in the same language as the main ad and should be legible and understandable. With mutual funds, for example, the disclaimers are spoken so “quickly” that hardly any consumer understands them,” Nidhi Khare, chief commissioner of the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) and additional secretary at the Department of Consumer Affairs, said at the press conference.
With respect to advertising targeting children, the guidelines state that advertising directed at children should not claim that consumption of an advertised product has an effect on improving intelligence or physical ability or exceptional recognition without valid justification or adequate scientific evidence brings evidence.
Any advertisement that exploits children’s susceptibility to charitable causes should explain how their participation in a charity-related promotion will help.