On Tuesday, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) released its annual complaints report. Throughout the year (April 21-March 22) ASCI processed 5,532 advertisements across mediums including Print, Digital, and Television, and has come to the conclusion that 48% of the advertisements belonged to Digital, while complaints against influencers constituted 29% of the total grievances.
In the annual complaints report, ASCI found influencers violating its guidelines and misleading the audience through their content making process on social media platforms. Influencers indulging in misleading advertisements of crypto exchanges topped the list followed by personal care, fashion, e-commerce and F&B segments.
When asked if punitive action against such influencers would reduce misleading advertisements on social media platforms, Manisha Kapoor, CEO & Secretary General, ASCI, said “The Consumer Protection Act says that any endorser falls under the guideline laid for advertising. This automatically puts influencers under that guideline. I hope that it does not take a big case to make an influencer realize their responsibility. The CCPA can take such action against the influencers.”
Kapoor further said, “It is the responsibility of an influencer to do due diligence. The consumers do not wants their favorite celebrities and influencers to mislead them by appearing in advertisements which violates ASCI guidelines.”
ASCI processed 48% of the ads on Digital medium. The ads placed on Instagram (48%), YouTube (28%), Websites (18%), Twitter (6%) and Facebook (3%) were processed by ASCI throughout the year. However, ASCI processed highest number of complaints against Education sector followed by Healthcare, Personal Care, Crypto and Gaming.
Subhash Kamath, Chairman, ASCI said, “The year (2021-22) we followed through on our promise of increasingly monitoring the Digital media given the way it has been dominating the advertising landscape. We invested heavily in technology and that has worked quite well. We also upgraded our complaints system which has made it very easy for consumers to register their complaints and for advertisers to respond to it. Going ahead, we will continue to be at the forefront in understanding how best to regulate and monitor the digital frontier, even as we keep streamlining our processes to become more responsive, and more proactive.”
Recently, social media influencers and content creators are under heavy scrutiny of the government watchdogs. Recently, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) issued new guidelines stating that social media influencers who often get free merchandise for sales promotions will have to pay a 10% tax deducted at source (TDS) on such benefits from July 1.