The new rules to keep advertisements in check

GS paper 2,4; Govt Policies and Interventions, Ethics.


  • Recently, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) released recommendations to avoid deceptive or misleading ads. The rules are ground-breaking because they solve key holes in consumer protection while specifically articulating advertiser responsibilities.
  • A proper advertising comprises a fair and honest description of the items and does not overstate the accuracy, scientific validity, or practical utility or competence.
  • Advertisements that condone, promote, inspire, or inappropriately copy behaviour that might be hazardous for children, or that take advantage of ‘children’s inexperience, credulity, or feeling of loyalty, etc.’ have been forbidden in a significant move.
  • The Supreme Court-mandated Committee on Content Regulation in Government Advertising (CCRGA) recently filed a letter to the Delhi government, requesting explanation on a recent advertising it ran in Mumbai editions of major newspapers.

Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA):

  • The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) was established pursuant to Section 10(1) of the Consumer Protection Act of 2019.
  • The Act intends to broaden the reach of the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 in resolving consumer issues.
  • The Central Consumer Protection Authority’s (CCPA) mission is to promote, defend, and enforce the rights of consumers as a group.

CCPA Powers Include:

  • Conduct investigations into violations of consumer rights and file complaints/prosecute violators
  • Request the recall of dangerous goods and services.
  • Order the cessation of unfair business practises and deceptive advertising.
  • Penalties should be imposed on manufacturers/endorsers/publishers of false ads.

What exactly is the CCRGA? When was it installed?

  • In 2016, the Government of India established a three-member commission to examine into the content control of government-funded ads across various media channels, as directed by the Supreme Court in 2015.
  • States have been directed by the Supreme Court to establish three-member committees on the content regulation of government advertisements.
  • State-level Three Member Committees have already been formed in Karnataka, Goa, Mizoram, and Nagaland.
  • It has the authority to hear broad public complaints and to take Suo-moto cognizance of any infringement of Supreme Court norms and suggest corrective steps.

Supreme Court Directives:

  • The substance of government ads should be pertinent to the government’s constitutional and legal duties, as well as the rights and entitlements of citizens.
  • The advertisement materials should be prepared to suit the campaign’s objectives while also ensuring maximum reach at the lowest possible cost.
  • It should be truthful and should not depict pre-existing policies and goods as novel. The substance of advertisements should not also promote the ruling party’s political interests.

What are the provisions of the CCPA’s newly announced guidelines?

  • The rules solve key holes in consumer protection while specifically stating advertiser responsibilities.
  • The rules attempt to discourage the promotion of unreasonable consumerism directed toward youngsters.
  1. Identifying a “Legitimate” Advertising:
  • The rules provide the requirements for non-misleading and legitimate ads.
  • A non-misleading advertising provides genuine and honest representations of items and does not overstate the accuracy, scientific validity, or practical utility or capacity.
  • In the event of an inadvertent lapse, the advertising may still be regarded acceptable provided the advertiser took timely measures to inform the consumer of the shortcoming.
  1. Surrogate Advertising:
  • “Surrogate advertising” refers to the promotion of one product under the shadow of another.
  • While existing laws, such as the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution) Act of 2003, seek to govern tobacco advertisements, manufacturers and advertisers have been able to skirt the regulation by using a surrogate advertisement.
  • The rules strive to cover these grey areas with the black text of the law, entirely prohibiting any attempts to market things that are otherwise illegal under the law.
  1. Advertisements Aimed at Children:
  • Another significant issue addressed by the new standards is the prohibition of “children-oriented marketing.”
  • Advertisements that condone, promote, inspire, or inappropriately replicate potentially harmful behaviour in children, or that exploit children’s inexperience, have been forbidden.
  • The standards also provide those commodities requiring a health warning should not be promoted to minors or celebrities from music, sports, or film.
  • Advertisements that make “any health or nutritional claims or advantages that have not been sufficiently and scientifically proved” or any operation that may have a negative impact on children’s physical and mental wellbeing are forbidden.
  • Furthermore, an advertising may be termed children focused if it addresses or targets children and promotes a poor body image or gives the sense that such items, product, or service is superior than natural or traditional meals.
  • Additionally, the standards provide that commercial for “chips, fizzy beverages, and such foods and drinks” must not be shown on channels dedicated solely to children.
  1. Additional Reforms:
  • The standards also mandate the inclusion of disclaimers in ads to clarify any claims made in marketing.
  • Furthermore, the advertiser must not “try to conceal important facts pertaining to any claim made in such advertisement, the omission or absence of which is likely to render it misleading.”
  • The rules state that the disclaimer must be accessible to ordinarily sighted people and clearly displayed so that the customer may carefully read it.
  • The standards also require manufacturers, service providers, and advertising agencies not to make claims or make comparisons in advertisements that are based on objectively ascertainable facts.
  1. Penalties For Deceptive Advertising Include:
  • The CCPA can fine a producer or endorser up to Rs 10 lakh and jail them for up to two years for fraudulent or deceptive advertising.
  • In the event of a repeat offence, the punishment might reach Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment can last up to five years.

Implications Of the New Advertising Guidelines:

  • Long-standing concerns are being addressed: For far too long, the problem of deceptive, bait, surrogate, and children-targeted advertising has gone unaddressed. These difficulties are addressed in the guidelines.
  • Aligned with international standards: The guidelines also play an important role in bringing the Indian regulatory system in line with international norms and standards.
  • Definition limits the extent of exploitation: Rather than specifying what makes a “misleading or invalid commercial,” the recommendations aimed to define “legitimate or non-misleading advertisement.” This approach to policy formulation considerably lowers the potential for exploiting any unintended gaps.
  • Close legal loopholes: The surrogate advertising rules strive to guarantee that these grey areas are filled by the black language of the law, entirely prohibiting any attempts to market items through surrogate advertisements.
  • Protecting Children’s Interests: A marketing plan that aggressively exploits the immaturity of the younger audience would always infringe on their ‘right to choice,’ as well as their right to be educated and protected from harmful goods and services and unfair commercial practises. The new restrictions assist to safeguard youngsters from inappropriate marketing.
  • Correcting the Intention of Advertisements: According to the new standards, advertisements must be designed to win customer trust rather than “abuse consumer trust or exploit their lack of experience or expertise.”

Issues Expressed by The New Advertising Guidelines:

  • Implementation: The recommendations address enforcement concerns in current advertisement rules by imposing significant fines. Nonetheless, they must be implemented in order to fulfil the goals indicated in the new rules.
  • Regulatory Overburden: Given the massive volume of advertising that occurs at the national, state, and local levels, it becomes difficult for regulatory authorities to implement the standards even if they want to do so. The sheer magnitude of the economy can overburden the CCPA, which is already understaffed.
  • Under the Garb: A lot of things in advertising are in the grey area. As a result, it is extremely difficult for a celebrity to validate claims since often even clients are unable to verify those claims.
  • Judicial Review: Children’s advertising guidelines prohibit some advertisements on channels dedicated solely to children. This can be challenged under Article 14 and Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution since it infringes on the right of networks like Cartoon Network to make money from such commercials.

Why Advertiser Collaboration is Required:

  • The standards are critical in empowering customers against deceptive ads. Advertisers must follow suit and apply self-regulation in order to comply with the standards.

What are the ramifications of the latest brand ambassador guidelines?

  • Endorsers supply a service. Given the influence they have on the audience, they do have duties. But it’s not entirely their fault. They would lack the technical skills required to validate the items.
  • While the ASCI self-regulation standards give something comparable in terms of the due diligence process that celebrities must perform, the new guidelines make due diligence by endorsers a legislative requirement.
  • The Advertising Standards Council of India approved a “Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising” (ASCI)
  • New restrictions state that they cannot advocate a product just for monetary advantage without bearing any accountability for their endorsements.
  • The standards demand celebrities to express their true or current viewpoint and to declare any affiliation with the company.
  • There will be more cases where brand endorsers will need to seek technical guidance to determine whether the endorsements are substantiated or not.
  • The penalty of banning the endorser for a year damages the celebrity’s reputation, discouraging them from blindly promoting the product.
  • These principles will boost openness and promote more ethical advertising.

Concerns Highlighted Include:

  • The penalty for violating the rules is insufficient. As a result, some argue that the punishment should have been substantially higher.
  • Additionally, celebrities are now ensuring that no-responsibility provisions are included in the contracts they sign with brands.


  • When it comes to advertisements, the most essential thing to remember is that it must cultivate healthy, promising, and long-lasting public partnerships.
  • Advertising moral standards are founded on the ideas of free choice and action. These concepts stem from a conviction in the advantages of a free market economy.
  • The right of consumers to free choice is congruent with two additional principles: freedom from coercion and freedom from damage.
  • Advertising should not utilise deceptive strategies to influence or mislead people into making a poor decision.
  • Thus, the phrases “advertising ethics” and “moral standards in advertising” are not merely a collection of mutually incompatible notions, but unquestionably represent typical practises.


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