ASCI releases advisory for Covid-19 related advertising

NEW DELHI: Brands cannot make claims about ‘destruction or removal of virus’ other than the virus which causes Covid-19 in their advertisements, according to the advisory released by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) after it saw a spike in the number of misleading advertisements making claims related to the novel virus that has caused the pandemic.

In case advertisers choose to claim removal of any other virus in their advertisement, they should include a disclaimer such as “Claim not applicable to coronavirus (COVID-19)” or a similar message with a disclaimer, the advisory said.

Out of the 250 ads that the self regulatory body for the advertising industry has screened for the ministry of AYUSH 233 from the healthcare sector were found to be misleading. Overall it has already screened more than 500 advertisements related to the disease.

The advisory also said that advertisers should be able to substantiate claims of immunity against or treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19) supported by either technical support recognised or approved by health authorities such as WHO, ICMR, MoHFW, AYUSH, DCGI, CDC (USA) or health organisations of similar stature.

“Products which are not internally consumed or applied to bodies, ie, not requiring license under the Drug & Cosmetic Act, should be particularly cautious while making claims regarding prevention of, immunity against or treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19),” the advisory added.

Manisha Kapoor, general secretary, ASCI, said, “We want advertisers to be more mindful in creating advertisements and making claims related to Covid-19. The advisory to advertisers is meant to safeguard consumers as well as to ensure the highest standards for advertising.”

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