ASCI will get cracking on surrogate promoting by liquor manufacturers in IPL; sends notices to eight manufacturers

Mumbai, November 2

Alarmed at possible ‘surrogate advertising’ by liquor companies during the ongoing IPL games, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on Monday said it has registered eight cases against whisky, beer and white liquor brands.

The eight brands had advertisements selling goods like music CDs, packaged water, non-alcoholic beverages and merchandising, the self-regulatory body said, adding liquor companies were asked to explain about the possible surrogate advertisements within two days of airing them.

Advertising for liquor has been banned in the country since 1995, but such companies often use the same brand names for unrelated products to keep the product name relevant or on top of consumers’ minds. Such attempts are called ‘surrogate advertising’.

Often, it has been found that such music CDs or packaged water are not available in the marketplace at all, or their pick-ups are so low that it does not justify ad spends done on the purported product.

“Key to ASCI’s investigation is determining what surrogates for liquor are, and what constitutes genuine brand extensions,” the body said in a statement.

For a brand extension of a product to be considered genuine, it must be registered with an appropriate government authority such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, or should have at least 10 per cent of the units of leading brand in the category in stores or produce turnover data, it said.

“We are being extra vigilant because the IPL is one of the biggest marketing platforms in India. We are looking at advertising across media – print, OTT, digital,” ASCI’s Secretary General Manisha Kapoor said. 

She added that advertisers are usually given time to substantiate claims which should include sales, distribution and market share data that must be certified by an independent body.

“If the advertiser fails to respond within the allotted time, the complaint is taken up ex-parte by ASCI’s independent Consumer Complaints Council,” she added. — PTI


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