Ethic in Advertising

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19 April 2016

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Advertising is any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods, or services by an identified sponsor. In today’s fast-paced and high-tech age, businesses use advertising to make prospects aware of their products and services and to earn profits through increasing their sales and sales turnover. Advertising reflects contemporary society. The making of an ad copy, its message, its illustrations, the product advertised and the appeal used, all these have a social flavour. Advertising affects society and gets affected by it. It is therefore, necessary to use this tool with caution to avoid a corrosive effect on social values. Consumers are bombarded with more than 1500 commercial messages a day. For most companies, the question is not whether to communicate but rather what to say, how to say it, to whom and how often. To reach target markets and build brand equity in this cluttered market advertisers sometimes overstep social, ethical and legal norms. Ethical norms deal with values, morals and ideals.

They give an idea of what is fair and unfair or what is right and wrong. The ethical principles underline social policies and are dictated by the society we live in. Like any other profession, the advertising field is governed by the laws and enactment governing the mass media. By citing real cases this project discusses the nature of problems faced by the consumers through misleading advertisements and evaluates the relative efficacies of institutional mechanisms, laws and regulations available for easy redressal of consumers. In order to understand the issue discussed, it is important to first understand the meanings of the two key words ‘advertising’ and ‘ethics’.

Advertising: It is any paid form of non-personal presentation of ideas, goods, or services by an identified sponsor. The objective of advertising is to make the target audience aware of a product or service and convince them to avail of it. By doing so an advertisement attempts to create or increase the sales of an already existing product (or service). Ethics: Ethics in Latin is ‘ethic us’ and in Greek is ‘ethikos’. It has originated from the word ‘Ethos’. Ethics are moral principles and values that govern the actions and decisions of an individual or a group.

People in advertising spend a lot of their time dealing with ethical choices, and those choices are almost never black and white. Telling truth is the basic ethical standard. The world’s best example of truth in advertising may be a tiny ‘Help Wanted’ ad that appeared in the London papers in 1900: ‘Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success. Ernest Shackelton.’ English men are very sporty and adventurous; hence the advertisement drew an overwhelming response. Shackelton’s Polar expedition turned out to be far, far worse than his bleak copy promised – a rare case of an advertisement over delivering on its claim.

Ads of reputed companies almost never lie. They have to be able to prove what they say to their own corporate counsel, the ad agency’s lawyers, and the network’s approval committees and to any number of regulating bodies like the FDA and FTC; with atleast five different government agencies looking over their shoulder. The cost of getting caught is simply too high. So, they tell the truth but not always the whole truth. Like a lawyer’s job is to put his client in the best light so is the company’s job to put its product / service in the best light. For a company trying to sell something, an ad is like getting a job interview with millions of people all at once. The ad wants to make a good first impression but different people react differently. For e.g.

During the 2000 Super Bowl, millions of people saw the commercial of Christopher Reene walking again. Some viewers saw an uplifting message of hope, some saw a cynical company manipulating peoples’ hope to make money whereas some others – mostly those with disabilities saw an ad that gave false hope. A lot of people question the ethics of selling consumer goods they don’t need – which presupposes that we shouldn’t have the things we don’t need but want anyway. We don’t need 90% of the things in our homes. Yet, we purchase artwork, decorative items, carpets etc because it is aesthetic and therefore we desire it. To understand the role of ethics in advertising it is important to understand the objectives of advertising, its merits and demerits, theories of advertising, types of advertising and standard advertising ethics.

Objectives of Advertising:
The purpose of advertising is nothing but to sell -a product, a service or an idea. The real objective of advertising is effective communication between producers and consumers. The following are the main objectives of advertising: Prepares Ground for New Products: New products need to be introduced to potential customers as they are unaware of its uses. The advertisement prepares a ground for that new product. Creation of Demand: The main objective of the advertisement is to create a favorable climate for maintaining of improved sales.

Customers are to be reminded about the product and the brand. It may induce new customers to buy the product by informing them its qualities since it is possible that some of the customers may switch brands. Gaining Competitive Edge: An effective advertisement helps build brand image and brand loyalty. It does so by highlighting the unique features of the product (or service). Hence, by using product differentiation it targets a niche market and gains a competitive edge. Creating or Enhancing Goodwill: Large scale advertising is often undertaken with the objective of creating or enhancing the goodwill of the advertising company. This, in turn, increases the market receptiveness of the company’s product and helps the salesmen to win customers’ confidence in the product easily.

Inform the Consumers of Changes: An advertisement informs the consumers of any changes that are made in products or services. Neutralizing Competitor’s Advertising: Advertising is unavoidable to compete with or neutralize competitor’s advertising. When competitors are adopting intensive advertising as their promotional strategy, it is reasonable to follow similar practices to neutralize their effects. In such cases, it is essential for the manufacturer to create a different image of his product. The advertisement builds up a certain monopoly for the product in which new entrants find it difficult to enter. In short, advertising aims at benefiting the producer, educating the consumer and supplementing the salesmen. Above all it is a link between the producer and the consumer.

Merits and Demerits of Advertising:
It increases the sales of the company.
It makes the customers aware about the image of the company. It attracts new
customers and creates brand loyalty in the previous customers. If a company introduces a new product in the market then the company can use advertising strategy to inform the customers. Demerits:

It requires a lot of budget.
It can create issues of under demand and under supply for the company and dislocates the demand and supply equilibrium for the company. It can also distort the mission of the company and the image of the company in the market through wrong concept in advertisements. Over advertisement of a company can create a fuss among the customers.

Advertising Theory:
Hierarchy of effects model
It clarifies the objectives of an advertising campaign and for each individual advertisement. The model suggests that there are six steps a consumer or a business buyer moves through when making a purchase. The steps are: 1. Awareness

2. Knowledge
3. Liking
4. Preference
5. Conviction
6. Purchase
Means-End Theory
This approach suggests that an advertisement should contain a message or means that leads the consumer to a desired end state. Leverage Points
It is designed to move the consumer from understanding a product’s benefits to linking those benefits with personal values.

Verbal and Visual Images
Types of Advertisements:
Virtually any medium can be used for advertising. Commercial advertising media can include wall paintings, billboards, street furniture components, printed flyers and rack cards, radio, cinema and television adverts, web banners, mobile telephone screens, shopping carts,
web popups, skywriting, bus stop benches, human billboards, magazines, newspapers, town criers, sides of buses, banners attached to or sides of airplanes (“logojets”), in-flight advertisements on seatback tray tables or overhead storage bins, taxicab doors, roof mounts and passenger screens, musical stage shows, subway platforms and trains, elastic bands on disposable diapers,doors of bathroom stalls,stickers on apples in supermarkets, shopping cart handles (grabertising), the opening section of streaming audio and video, posters, and the backs of event tickets and supermarket receipts. Any place an “identified” sponsor pays to deliver their message through a medium is advertising.

Television advertising / Music in advertising

The TV commercial is generally considered the most effective mass-market advertising format, as is reflected by the high prices TV networks charge for commercial airtime during popular TV events. The annual, Super Bowl football game in the United States is known as the most prominent advertising event on television. The average cost of a single thirty-second TV spot during this game has reached US$3.5 million (as of 2012).

The majority of television commercials feature a song or jingle that listeners soon relate to the product. Virtual advertisements may be inserted into regular television programming through computer graphics. It is typically inserted into otherwise blank backdrops or used to replace local billboards that are not relevant to the remote broadcast audience. More controversially, virtual billboards may be inserted into the background where none exist in real-life. This technique is especially used in televised sporting events. Virtual product placement is also possible.

An infomercial is a long-format television commercial, typically five minutes or longer. The word “infomercial” is formed by combining the words “information” & “commercial”. The main objective in an infomercial is to create an impulse purchase, so that the consumer sees the presentation and then immediately buys the product through the advertised toll-free telephone number or website. Infomercials describe, display, and often demonstrate products and their features, and commonly have testimonials from consumers
and industry professionals.

Radio advertising
Radio advertising is a form of advertising via the medium of radio. Radio advertisements are broadcast as radio waves to the air from a transmitter to an antenna and a thus to a receiving device. Airtime is purchased from a station or network in exchange for airing the commercials. While radio has the limitation of being restricted to sound, proponents of radio advertising often cite this as an advantage. Radio is an expanding medium that can be found not only on air, but also online. According to Arbitron, radio has approximately 241.6 million weekly listeners, or more than 93 percent of the U.S. population. Online advertising

Online advertising is a form of promotion that uses the Internet and World Wide Web for the expressed purpose of delivering marketing messages to attract customers. Online ads are delivered by an ad server. Examples of online advertising include contextual ads that appear on search engine results pages, banner ads, in text ads, Rich Media Ads, Social network advertising, online classified advertising, advertising networks and e-mail marketing, including e-mail spam. Product placements

Covert advertising, also known as guerrilla advertising, is when a product or brand is embedded in entertainment and media. For example, in a film, the main character can use an item or other of a definite brand, as in the movie Minority Report, where Tom Cruise’s character John Anderton owns a phone with the Nokia logo clearly written in the top corner, or his watch engraved with the Bulgari logo.

Another example of advertising in film is in I Robot, where main character played by Will Smith mentions his Converse shoes several times, calling them “classics,” because the film is set far in the future. I Robot and Spaceballs also showcase futuristic cars with the Audi and Mercedes-Benz logos clearly displayed on the front of the vehicles. Cadillac chose to advertise in the movie The Matrix Reloaded, which as a result contained many scenes in which Cadillac cars were used. Similarly, product placement for Omega Watches, Ford, VAIO, BMW and Aston Martin cars are featured in recent James Bond films, most notably Casino Royale. In “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”, the main transport vehicle shows a large Dodge logo on the front. Blade Runner includes some of the most obvious product placement; the whole film stops to show a Coca-Cola billboard.

Press advertising
Press advertising describes advertising in a printed medium such as a newspaper, magazine, or trade journal. This encompasses everything from media with a very broad readership base, such as a major national newspaper or magazine, to more narrowly targeted media such as local newspapers and trade journals on very specialized topics. A form of press advertising is classified advertising, which allows private individuals or companies to purchase a small, narrowly targeted ad for a low fee advertising a product or service. Another form of press advertising is the Display Ad, which is a larger ad (can include art) that typically run in an article section of a newspaper. Billboard advertising

Billboards are large structures located in public places which display advertisements to passing pedestrians and motorists. Most often, they are located on main roads with a large amount of passing motor and pedestrian traffic; however, they can be placed in any location with large amounts of viewers, such as on mass transit vehicles and in stations, in shopping malls or office buildings, and in stadiums.

Mobile billboard advertising
Mobile billboards are generally vehicle mounted billboards or digital screens. These can be on dedicated vehicles built solely for carrying advertisements along routes preselected by clients, they can also be specially equipped cargo trucks or, in some cases, large banners strewn from planes. The billboards are often lighted; some being backlit, and others employing spotlights. Some billboard displays are static, while others change; for example, continuously or periodically rotating among a set of advertisements. Mobile displays are used for various situations in metropolitan areas throughout the world, including: Target advertising, One-day, and long-term campaigns, Conventions, Sporting events, Store
openings and similar promotional events, and Big advertisements from smaller companies.

In-store advertising
In-store advertising is any advertisement placed in a retail store. It includes placement of a product in visible locations in a store, such as at eye level, at the ends of aisles and near checkout counters (aka POP—Point Of Purchase display), eye-catching displays promoting a specific product, and advertisements in such places as shopping carts and in-store video displays. Coffee cup advertising

Coffee cup advertising is any advertisement placed upon a coffee cup that is distributed out of an office, café, or drive-through coffee shop. This form of advertising was first popularized in Australia, and has begun growing in popularity in the United States, India, and parts of the Middle East. Street advertising

This type of advertising first came to prominence in the UK by Street Advertising Services to create outdoor advertising on street furniture and pavements. Working with products such as Reverse Graffiti, air dancer’s and 3D pavement advertising, the media became an affordable and effective tool for getting brand messages out into public spaces.

Celebrity branding
This type of advertising focuses upon using celebrity power, fame, money, popularity to gain recognition for their products and promote specific stores or products. Advertisers often advertise their products, for example, when celebrities share their favorite products or wear clothes by specific brands or designers. Celebrities are often involved in advertising campaigns such as television or print adverts to advertise specific or general products. The use of celebrities to endorse a brand can have its downsides, however. One mistake by a celebrity can be detrimental to the public relations of a brand. For example, following his performance of eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, swimmer Michael Phelps’ contract with Kellogg’s was terminated, as Kellogg’s did not want to
associate with him after he was photographed smoking marijuana.

Standard Advertising Ethics:
All advertising should be legal, decent and truthful. Every advertisement should be prepared with a due sense responsibility and should conform to the principles of fair competition, as generally accepted in business. No advertisement should be such as to impair public confidence in advertising. 1. Decency: Advertisements should not contain statements or visual presentations which offend prevailing standards of decency.

2. Honesty: Advertisements should be so framed as not to abuse the trust of consumers or exploit their lack of experience or knowledge.

3. Social Responsibility: Advertisement should not condone any sort of discrimination, including that based upon race, national origin, religion, sex or age. It should also not undermine human dignity in any way. It should not (without justifiable reason) play on fear. It should not play on superstition. Advertisement should not condone or incite violence, or to encourage unlawful or reprehensible behavior.

4. Truthful Presentation: Advertisement should not contain any statement or visual presentation which directly or by implication, omission, ambiguity or exaggerated claim that is likely to mislead the consumer, in particular with regard to –

characteristics such as: nature, composition, method and date of manufacture, range of use, efficiency and performance, quantity, commercial or geographical origin or environmental impact; the value of the product and the total price actually to be paid; delivery, exchange, return, repair and maintenance;

terms of guarantee;
copyright and industrial property rights such as patents, trademarks, designs and models and trade names; official recognition or approval, awards of
medals, prizes and diplomas; the extent of benefits for charitable causes

Advertisements should not misuse research results or quotations from technical and scientific publications. Statistics should not be so presented as to exaggerate the validity of advertising claims. Scientific terms should not be used to falsely ascribe scientific validity to advertising claims.

5. Comparisons: Advertisements containing comparisons should be so designed that the comparison is not likely to mislead and should comply with the principles of fair competition. Points of comparison should be based on facts that can be substantiated and should not be unfairly selected.

6. Unassembled Merchandise: When advertised merchandise requires partial or complete assembly by the purchaser, the advertisement should disclose that fact by stating ‘unassembled’ or ‘partial assembly’.

7. Testimonials: Advertisement should not make unjustifiable use of the name, initials, logo, and/or trademarks of another firm, company or institution. It should not take undue advantage of another person, firm or institution’s goodwill in its name, trade name or intellectual property. The advertisement should not also take advantage of the goodwill earned by other advertising campaigns.

8. Imitation: An advertisement should not imitate the general layout, text, slogan, visual presentation, music and sound effects, etc. of any other advertisements in a way that is likely to mislead or confuse the consumer. Where advertisers have established distinctive advertising campaigns in one or more countries, other advertisers should not unduly imitate these campaigns in the other countries where the former may operate thus preventing them from extending their campaigns within a reasonable period of time to such countries.

9. Identification of advertisement: Advertisements should be clearly distinguishable as such, whatever their form and whatever medium used; when an advertisement appears in a medium which contains news or editorial
matter, it should be so presented that it will be readily recognized as an advertisement.

10. Safety and Health: Advertisement should not without reason, justifiable on education or social grounds, contain any visual presentation or any description of dangerous practices or of situations which show a disregard for safety or health.

11. Children and Young People: The following provisions apply to advertisements addressed to children and young people who are minors under the applicable national law-

Inexperience and Credulity
Advertisements should not exploit the inexperience or credulity of children and young people.

Advertisements should not understate the degree of skill or age level generally required to use or enjoy the product.

Special care should be taken to ensure that advertisements do not mislead children and young people as to the true size, value, nature, durability and performance of the advertised product.

If extra items are needed to use it (e.g. batteries) or to produce the result shown or described (e.g. paint) this should be made clear.

A product that is part of a series should be clearly indicated, as should the method of acquiring the series.

Where results of product use shown or described, the advertisement should represent what is reasonably attainable by the average child or young person in the age range for which the product is intended.

Price indication should not be such as to lead children and young people to an unreal perception of the true value of the product, for instance by using
the word ‘only’. No advertisements should imply that the advertised product is immediately within reach of every family budget.

Avoidance of Harm:
Advertisements should not contain any statement or visual presentation that could have effect of harming children and young people mentally, morally or physically or of bringing them into unsafe situations or activities seriously threatening their health or security, or of encouraging them to consort with strangers or to enter strange or hazardous places.

12. Guarantees: Advertisements should not contain any reference to a guarantee which does not provide the consumer with additional rights to those provided by law. Advertisements may contain the word “guarantee”, “guaranteed”, “warranty” or “warranted” or words having the same meaning only if full terms of the guarantee as well as the remedial action open to the purchaser are clearly set out in the advertisements, or are available to the purchaser in writing at the point of sale, or come with the goods.

13. Unsolicited Products: Advertisements should not be used to introduce or support the practice whereby unsolicited products are sent to persons who are required, or given the impression that they are obliged to accept and pay for these products (inertia selling).

14. Claimed Results: Claims as to energy savings, performance, safety, efficacy, results, etc. which will be obtained by or released from a particular product or service should be based on recent and competent scientific, engineering or other objective data.

15. Layout and Illustrations: The composition and layout of advertisements should be such as to minimize the possibility of misunderstanding by the reader. For example, prices, illustrations, or descriptions should not be so placed in an advertisement when such is not the fact.

16. Asterisks and Abbreviations: An asterisk may be used to impart additional information about a word or term which is not in itself inherently
deceptive. The asterisk or other reference symbol should not be used as a means of contradicting or substantially changing the meaning of any advertising statement. Information reference by asterisks should be clearly and prominently disclosed. Commonly known abbreviations may be used in ads. However, abbreviations not commonly known to or understood by the general public should be avoided.

17. Environmental Impact: Advertisements should not appear to approve or encourage actions which contravene the law, self – regulating codes or generally accepted standards of environmentally responsible behaviour.

When are Advertisements Deceptive?

The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of speech. Special restraint is needed in commercial speech including advertising. An advertisement is called deceptive when it misleads people, alters the reality and affects buying behaviour. According to Federal Trade Commission (USA) deception occurs when –

1. There is misrepresentation, omission, or a practice that is likely to mislead consumer(s).

2. The consumer is acting responsibly in given circumstances

3. The practice is material and consumer injury is possible because consumers are likely to have chosen differently in case of no deception.

Deception exists when an advertisement is introduced into the perceptual process of the audience in such a way that the output of that perceptual process differs from the reality of the situation. It includes a misrepresentation, omission or a practice that is likely to mislead. These may include the following:

1. Violates Consumers’ Right to Information: Use of untrue paid testimonials to convince buyers, quoting misleading prices and disparaging a rival
product in a misleading manner are some examples of deception. Advertisers of anti- aging creams, complexion improving creams, weight loss programs, anti-dandruff shampoos, and manufacturers of vitamins or dietary supplements are usually guilty of making exaggerated product claims. Some of the examples of advertisements in this category are:

A fairness cream is advertised with the claim that its user will get a fair complexion within a month.

Parle G Original Glico Biscuits puts a tall claim of being ‘the World’s largest selling biscuits’ on its package on the basis of the results of a survey done in the Year 2003 by A. C. Nielsen.

Advertisements by some financial companies such as doubling money in a given time without base to justify claim are deceptive in nature.

Many colleges misrepresent in their prospectus that the institution is affiliated to a particular university and an accredited one. In one of the cases decided in 2004 the complainant took admission believing representations made in prospectus that college was recognized by the government of Punjab and was also approved by the Central Council of Indian Medicine for the whole course of five and a half years. The complainant deposited Rs.1, 00,000/- as donation and Rs. 65,000 as admission fees. Four years after 1996-97 no exams were being held. The Punjab University, CCIM and Baba Farid University did not grant any affiliation for want of requisite infrastructure. It was held to be a case of unfair trade practice and deficiency in service.

In the case of Bhupesh Khurana vs Vishwa Buddha Parishad a class action suit was filed by twelve students who had joined the BDS course offered by the Buddhist Mission Dental College run by Vishwa Buddha Parishad. The students’ complaint was that the college, in its advertisement and prospectus inviting applications for the course, had given the impression that it was affiliated to Magadh University, Bodh Gaya and recognized by the Dental Council of India and was fully equipped to give the degree of Bachelor of Dental
Science. However, after joining the college and attending classes, the students found to their dismay that the annual examinations were not being held because the college was neither affiliated to Magadha University, Bodh Gaya and nor recognized by the Dental Council of India. As a result the students lost two precious academic years, but also spent money on fees, hostel charges, etc. holding the college to be deficient the National Commission directed it to refund the admission expenses of all the twelve students along with interest of 12 percent .

2. Violates Consumers’ Right to Safety: When an advertisement for cooking oil says that using the said oil resolves the user’s heart problems, then such an advertisement is misrepresenting the facts. Companies advertise products highlighting health cures and drugs of questionable efficacy and health gadgets of unknown values. Tempted by an advertisement, claiming to increase a person’s height, Nadiya, a Class VIII student having a height of 135 cms got admitted to Fathima Hospital for surgery, on 24-7-1996, for increasing her height. The surgery was conducted and a ring fixator was fixed on the legs which had to be adjusted every six hours. To her dismay Nadiya found her left leg shorter by ½ inches, and therefore she could not walk. By September 1996, the pain had increased and the complainant was bed-ridden till March, 1998. The Commission held the hospital and the doctors negligent and deficient in

their service and directed them to pay Rs. 5, 00,000 with costs amounting to Rs. 2,000 to the complainant.

Many of the juice, sherbet, wafer manufacturing companies do not mention the ingredients used in it. For example, Haldiram offers many types of sherbets which are artificially flavored but the front side of the package has big and attractive pictures of the fruit itself, the consumers therefore unconsciously understand it to fresh fruit juice.

3. Violates Consumers’ Right to Choice: When material facts which are likely to influence buying decisions are not disclosed, the advertisement becomes deceptive. In several advertisements it is stated that ‘conditions apply’
but these conditions are not stated. Not disclosing material facts amounts to deception. For example, the recent print ad for Videocon mentions a 1-ton split-AC available for Rs. 15,990/. It is a very attractive offer. But there is a small asterisk which mentions three things in very small font. They are:

Conditions apply
Prices valid in Delhi and NCR under exchange only
Actual products may differ from those displayed in the offer. Such ads mislead consumers who do not read the ad carefully. Advertisements for general medicines available over the counter, never state the side effects that may result from their frequent use.

4. Advertisements directed at children: Children in India constitute 18.7 per cent of the world kids’ population. One-third of our country’s population is under the age of 15 years. Thus in India, children form a massive 30% of the total population and this segment is growing at a rate of 4% per annum. This is a huge pool of 300 million consumers and is perpetual growing. Advertisers are aware of these naïve consumers and have already started targeting them.

A survey by A C Nielsen UTV’s research partner showed that an average child watches TV for about three hours on week days and 3.7 hours on weekends, the time spent on television goes up with age, and the preferred language of viewing is Hindi across all age groups. Apart from the programmes, children also view a lot of the advertisements.

In India the advertising expenditure per year on products meant for children but purchased by parents, like health drinks, is 12 to 15 per cent of the total Rs. 38,000 million. Ad expenditure per year on products meant for children and also bought by them such as chocolates is 7 to 8 per cent. The advertisers rely on the children’s demanding power on their parents. The ethical issue involved is that advertisers try to exploit children by advertising products that are not conducive to their health.

Children are naïve and gullible and are vulnerable to advertiser’s

They lack independent judgment and experience.
The line between the children’s shows and commercials is fading

Is the strategy of selling to parents by convincing the children a fair one?

5. Puffery: Puffery is the use of harmless superlatives. The advertisers use them to boast of the merits of their products, for e.g. best, finest, number one, etc. Even law permits trade puffing or exaggeration. But subjective statements of opinion about a product’s quality are so untrue that it becomes an outright spoof. In 1997 MRTP Commission asked Hindustan Lever to stop its ad campaign stating that its Pepsodent toothpaste was 102 % better than the Colgate toothpaste. Hindustan Lever was restrained from “referring to any Colgate Toothpaste in any manner, either directly or indirectly, by means of any allusion or hint in its TV commercials or newspaper advertisements or hoardings, by comparison of its New Pepsodent with any product of Colgate in general, and Colgate Dental cream in particular” .

6. Use of sex appeal: Sex appeal is used explicitly to sell all kinds of things. It is used to gain consumer attention. It is used where it is not even relevant to the product or service being advertised. Women are shown as decorative objects or as sexually provocative figures for advertisements for products and services where women are not required. For e.g. in ads of thermal wear, which are aired in winter season, explicit use of sex appeal is practiced.

7. Bait advertising: It means taking advantage of consumer psychology and depriving consumers of a choice. For example, a consumer is lured into a retail outlet by an advertisement of heavy discounts on costly items. On visiting such stores, the consumer finds a handful of outdated products on the discount announced and other better products as ‘fresh stock’. The consumer is then tempted into buying more expensive product than planned from the fresh stock.

8. Advertising of harmful products: According to Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), under the AP prohibition of Smoking & Health Protection Act 2002, no person or agency shall advertise in any place and any public service vehicle which may promote smoking, or the sale of cigarettes, cigar or beedies or other such products. There is a ban on Tobacco products advertisement namely Cigarettes, Pan Masala, Chewed Tobacco, Gutka and beedi directly or indirectly.

Some companies use surrogate ads to promote their tobacco/liquor products. A Surrogate advertisement is one in which a different product is promoted using an already established brand name. Such ads help in brand recall.

Products advertising for liquor, cigarette is banned in the country since 1995. Ads promoting directly or indirectly for sale, consumption of cigarette, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants, infant milk substitutes, feeding bottles, infant food and their extended brands are banned from advertising.

As there is a ban on liquor/Tobacco products, Companies manufacturing liquor/cigarettes etc., are finding ways by bringing out brands extensions with names similar to the Liquor/Cigarette brands. Ex: Royal Challenge, King Fisher Mineral Water etc.

ASCI (Advertising Standard Council of India) has clarified that as per the State Governments code, the mere use of the brand name or co-name applied to a product for which advertising is restricted or prohibited, is not a necessary and sufficient reason to find the advertisement objectionable; provided the ad is not objectionable and the product is produced and distributed in reasonable quantities and the advertisement does not contain direct or indirect sale or consumption for the product which is not allowed to be advertised. Examples include Mc Dowell’s Soda, and Wills lifestyle stores which are seen as surrogate advertising for Mc Dowell’s Whiskey and Wills cigarettes respectively.

The issues involved are:
– Whether such products should be advertised or not?
– If they are advertised then in which media should they be advertised? – Whether the warning signs on the packages of these products really serve any purpose? The role of in-film advertising and surrogate advertising in promoting the sale of these products also needs to be examined more closely. Advertisers pay film

producers to place their products in certain film scenes by integrating the products in the film scripts and screen plays.

Hence to keep watch on advertising agencies and advertisements, several laws have been introduced by the government and many regulatory bodies have been set up. These are discussed briefly below.

Laws and Regulatory Bodies

Laws Governing Advertising agencies and Advertisements: Advertisements that offend the following Acts of Government of India and various State Governments are not accepted. They air either banned or modified as per the following laws.

Drugs and Magic Remedies Act 1954
Prohibition Act of various states.
Emblems and Names Act 1950
RBI Rules and Regulations
Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practice Act, 1969
Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986
Prize Competitions Act
Defamatory Ads
Appointment ads of Private Institutions asking application money.

1. Drugs and Magic Remedies Act 1954:

As per the act, advertisements for curing specific diseases as
mentioned in the schedule (Xerox copy enclosed) should not be carried. Ex: Appendicitis, Cancer, Diabetics, Disaster of Brain, Heart Disease, Sexual impotence and AIDs etc.

Magic Remedies: Offering magical cure for incurable diseases by way of Talisman, Mantra, Kavacha or any other charm of any kind which is alleged to possess miraculous power for or in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease in human beings or animals.

2. Prohibition Act of Various State:

No person or agency shall advertise in any place and any public service vehicle which may promote smoking, or the sale of cigarettes, cigar or beedies or other such smoking substances. In other words, advertisements that promote the usage of tobacco (in any form), Pan Masala and alcohol are prohibited.

3. Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1950:
As per the Act, no one should use the State Emblem, National Flag, Seal etc., in any manner (for professional and commercial use) without the prior permission from the authorized officer of the Govt. of India. The India map should not be disfigured. All boundaries must be given perfectly as approved by the Survey of India. 4. RBI Rules and Regulations:

Ads should not be accepted from companies calling for deposits from public without the prior permission of RBI and offering interest rates other than those approved rates of RBI. Ex: 12%, 18% etc.

Currency notes should not be used in the commercial ads.

5. Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practice Act, 1969:

The advertisers use superlatives (puffery) to boost the merits of their products like the best, No. 1, greatest, finest etc. down grading other competitor’s product. Ex: Hindustan Unilever claims its Pepsodent is 102%
better than Colgate. It is objectionable.

It had been the most effective Act in the eighties and nineties to regulate undesirable advertising. In the year 1984, the government brought, through an amendment, “unfair trade practices” under the purview of the MRTP Commission and the Office of the Director General (Investigation and Registration). However, this Act is being replaced by the Competition Act, 2002 but the cases pending under the MRTP Commission are still being heard. Moreover, a Competition Commission has been set up under the Competition Act to deal with monopolies and restrictive trade practices. The complaints pertaining to unfair trade practices are still being handled by the MRTP Commission or the consumer courts. The MRTP Act has been very effective in hauling a number of advertisers to stop advertisements which are prejudicial to consumer interest through its ‘cease and desist orders’.

6. Indecent Representation of Women Act, 1986:
An ad depicting Women in any manner of the figure or form or body or any part thereof in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent or derogatory/ denigrating women or likely depraves the morality of the women. Sex appeal/sexual figure are used explicitly to sell all sorts of things and to gain consumer attention. Women are shown as decorative elements in ads even though it is not required. They are used to attract and sustain attention.

7. Prize competition:
Any competition whether a cross word, Ad prize, missed word, prize competition, picture prize competition in which prizes are offered for the solution without proper license from the authorities. 8. Defamatory Ads:

We cannot carry ads per se defamatory nature, use of provocative language (bad language) directed at an individual or group.

9. Appointment ads:

Appointment ads asking application money from private companies cannot
be accepted. We cannot carry overseas appointment ads without license from the Ministry of Labour and Rehabilitation, Govt. of India. The advertisement must contain the address and name of the company identically as given in the License copy.

10. Motor Vehicles Act, 1988:

This law affects outdoor advertisements, like bill boards, posters, neon signs, etc. The Act, grants powers to remove such advertisements which may distract drivers and have the potential of causing road accidents.

11. The Children’s Act, 1960:

It prohibits the disclosure of names and address and other particulars of any child involved in any proceedings.

12. The Consumer Protection Act, 1986:

The Consumer Protection Act, 1986, applies to advertisements for all products in the market place. A consumer may file a complaint related to false and misleading advertisements, which are included under the definition of unfair trade practice (Section 2 (r): The law mentions seven classes of unfair trade practices in six subsections of this section of the law. The consumer courts can however, take the following actions under section 14 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1986: Issue interim orders stopping such advertisements pending disposal

To pass, cease and desist orders.

Award compensation for loss or suffering, punitive damages and cost of litigation to the affected party.

Direct the advertiser to issue corrective advertisement

13. Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995:

This law lays down the procedure for registration of a cable television network and also regulates the programmers and advertisements transmitted on cable network in India. The registering authority is the Head Post Master of a Head Post Office of the area within whose territorial jurisdiction the office of the cable operator is situated. 14. Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940:

This law regulates the production, manufacture and sale of all drugs and cosmetics in the country. The Act prescribes a fine of up to Rs. 500 for any person using any report or extract of report of a test or analysis made by the Central Drugs Laboratory or a government analyst for advertising of a drug or cosmetic.

15. Section 292 and Section 293 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860:

Section 292 and 293 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 prohibits the dissemination of any obscene matter. The Indian Post Office Act, 1898, imposes a similar prohibition on the transmission of obscene matter through the post. The Customs Act, 1962, allows the detention and seizure of any obscene matter sought to be imported into the country.

Regulatory Bodies:

With the increasing criticism of advertising, advertisers have devised self regulation to ensure true and accurate messages. Moreover, with the advent of new communication and information technologies, the national policy makers have also become less willing and less able to intervene. Since print and audio-visual media exercise the essential freedom of speech and they are financed by advertising revenues, media has always resisted curbs thereby constraining the capacity of national governments to influence media. Further, the business also realizes that the long term profitability of the organisation depends upon acting responsibly.

Agencies involved

1. Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI):

Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is a self regulatory voluntary organization of the advertising industry. It was established in 1985. It is committed to the cause of Self-Regulation in Advertising, ensuring the protection of the interests of consumers. The ASCI was formed with the support of all four sectors connected with Advertising, viz. Advertisers, Ad Agencies, Media (including Broadcasters and the Press) and others like PR Agencies, Market Research Companies etc. Its main objective is to promote responsible advertising thus enhancing the public’s confidence in Advertising.

ASCI is represented in all committees working on advertising content in every Ministry of the Government of India. ASCI’s Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising is now part of ad code under Cable TV Act’s Rules. Violation of ASCI’s Code is now violation of Govt. rules. ASCI’s membership of The European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA) ensures that it gets valuable advice, learning and even influence at the international level.

The Consumer Complaints Council is ASCI’s heart and soul. It is the dedicated work put in by this group of highly respected people that has given tremendous impetus to the work of ASCI and the movement of self-regulation in the advertising. This group comprise of 21 drawn from various disciplines. 12 are eminent people not associated with advertising (such as lawyer, doctor, journalist, teachers, technical experts’ consumer activities etc.) and 9 are from industry (advertiser, media, ad agencies and allied professionals.

ASCI, thus aims to achieve its own overarching goal: to maintain and enhance the public’s confidence in advertising.

ASCI’s code of Self Regulation says: Advertisements should be truthful and fair to consumers and competitors within the bounds of generally accepted standards of public decency and propriety. Not used indiscriminately for the
promotion of products, hazardous or harmful to society or to individuals particularly minors, to a degree unacceptable to society at large”.

Unfortunately despite several laws meant to protect consumers against such unfair trade practices, false and misleading advertisements continue to exploit

the consumer. Outdated laws, poor enforcement of them are some of the lacunas in order to control advertising. The need of the hour is better laws in keeping with the times, better enforcement, corrective advertisements, better self-regulation by industry independent regulator to regulate health and children -related advertisements.

2. Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI):

The Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) was registered on September 21, 1945 as a society in Kolkata. In 1961, the AAAI office was shifted to Mumbai. It is the official, national organisation of advertising agencies, formed to promote their interests so that they continue to make an essential and ever-increasing contribution to the nation, by working towards the following objectives:

To benefit Indian consumers and to protect their interests by helping ensure that advertising is honest and in good taste.

To benefit Indian advertisers by promoting their sales, increasing their sales and increasing productivity & profitability, to stimulate business and industrial activity.

To benefit media by establishing sound business practices between advertisers and advertising agencies and each of the various media owners.

To benefit the nation by harnessing advertising for the good of the country, its institutions, its citizens; to co-operate with the Government in promoting its social objectives and in the task of nation-building.

To question advertising that is wasteful and extravagant; to make it possible for the small entrepreneur to grow through advertising and to compete with the biggest; to encourage market and media research; to serve society by meeting its social responsibilities.

To encourage the interest of young individuals in the business of communication, to assist in education and training programmes and to provide information of benefit to members. Non-members are also provided this service for a fee.

To establish a common platform in building and sustaining the prestige of the

advertising profession and to serve as a spokesman against unwarranted attacks or restrictions on advertising.

To establish a forum where representatives of advertisers, advertising agencies, media owners and Government can meet on mutual ground and examine problems of mutual concern.

To offer effective co-operation and liaison with Government officials and bodies for the purpose of broadening their understanding of the role of advertisers, advertising and advertising agencies.

To co-operate with Government bodies in discussion of matters such as taxes, radio and TV advertising, legislation, political campaign advertising, controls on pharmaceuticals, tobacco or liquor advertising and other subjects of similar complexity and sensitivity.

The AAAI today is truly representative, with a very large number of small, medium and large-sized agencies as its members, who together account for almost 80% of the advertising business placed in the country. It is thus recognised at all forums — advertisers, media owners and associations, and even Government — as the spokesperson for the advertising industry.

Advertising Association (AA):

Advertising Association (AA) is a London based self –regulatory body. It is headquartered at London, U.K.

At the heart of the AA is its role as a forum through which companies and their trade associations can collectively monitor and review developments relevant to the advertising industry; shape the sector’s self-regulatory systems; and advise policy makers.

There four main aims are:-

Creating and maintaining public trust and confidence in advertising.

Creating a single confident and coherent industry voice.

Advocating less and better regulation around advertising and supporting the freedom to advertise responsibly.

Inspiring our industry to lead the agenda.

There work is centered on three main areas that are:

Putting evidence and intellectual authority into the case for advertising, most notably through the creation of Credos – a new, independently governed think-tank for advertising.

Creating industry-led networks to influence and lead advertising’s response to its current and future challenges.

Creating an effective link between the complex make-up of the advertising industry and the world in which it operates. We aim to be the first port of call for anyone seeking to understand or influence the advertising industry.

3. Press Council Of India:

Press Council of India was first set up in the year 1966 by the Parliament on the recommendations of the First Press Commission with the object of preserving the freedom of the press and of maintaining and improving the standards of press in India.

The present Council functions under the Press Council Act 1978. It is a statutory, quasi judicial body which acts as a watchdog of the press. It adjudicates the complaints against and by the press for violation of ethics and for violation of the freedom of the press respectively.

It mainly governs the conduct of the print media in India. It is one of the most important bodies that sustain democracy, as it has supreme power in regards to the media to ensure that freedom of speech is maintained. However, it is also empowered to hold hearings on receipt of complaints and take suitable

action where appropriate. It may either warn or censure the errant journalists on finding them guilty. It did so on 21 July 2006, when it censured three newspapers — Times of India (Delhi and Pune), Punjab Kesari (Delhi) and Mid Day (Mumbai) — for violation of norms of journalistic conduct. The press council of India is protected by the constitution and its actions may not be questioned unless it is proved to be in violation of the constitution, which makes it exceedingly powerful a body.

4. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF):

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) enforces federal laws and regulations relating to alcohol and tobacco diversion, firearms, explosives, and arson. With an annual budget of about $1 billion, the ATF also provides technical expertise, training, and resources to other federal and local law enforcement agencies in its mission to reduce violent crime and prevent terrorism. The ATF was moved from the Department of the Treasury to the Department of Justice in 2003; that year it also added “explosives” to its name, though it still operates under the acronym ATF.

Also, the Advertising, Labeling, and Formulation Division (ALFD) implements and enforces a broad range of statutory and compliance provisions of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (the Act). The Act requires importers and bottlers of beverage alcohol to obtain certificates of label approval or certificates of exemption from label approval (COLAs) for most alcohol beverages prior to their introduction into interstate commerce. ALFD acts on these COLAs to ensure that products are labeled in accordance with federal laws and regulations. ALFD also examines formulas for wine and distilled spirits, statements of process, and pre-import applications filed by importers and proprietors of domestic distilled spirit plants, wineries, and breweries for proper tax classification and to ensure that the products are manufactured in accordance with Federal laws and regulations.

5. National Advertising Review Council (NARC):

NARC’s mission is to foster truth and accuracy in national advertising through voluntary self-regulation. The self-regulatory system developed by NARC supports advertiser compliance by focusing on three goals:

Minimize governmental involvement in the advertising business.

Maintain a level playing field for settling disputes among competing advertisers.

Foster brand loyalty by increasing public trust in the credibility of advertising.

6. National Advertising Review Board (NARB):

National Advertising Review Board (NARB) was founded in 1971 and is headquartered in New York City. It is sponsored by the National Advertising Review Council for the purpose of sustaining high standards of truth and accuracy in national advertising. Membership consists of individuals from
the general public and the advertising industry. The NARB aims to maintain a self-regulatory mechanism that responds constructively to public complaints about national advertising and which significantly improves advertising performance and credibility.

The above mentioned objectives of advertisements, ethical codes and regulations, functions of different regulatory bodies and their objectives can be better understood from real life cases.

Company Profile:

Advertising is any paid form of non- personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods or services by an identified sponsor.

Advertisements are one of the most powerful tools of promotion. In India itself, the ownership of T.V. sets falls in the range of 75 – 147 per 1000. It is the largest medium of commercial communication. Therefore, television commercials (TVC) have gained importance.

In this era of cut throat competition an affective television commercial can prove to be an X- factor in boosting sales. Also, TVC’s are more appealing and therefore have more impact on the consumers than any other medium of communication.

Hence, many a time reputed companies get involved in unethical advertising practices and mudslinging at competitive brands.

Case studies of some companies involved in advertising tussle will be analysed in the project. Brief history of the company and the concerned products are given below.

1. Rin from Hindustan Unilever Ltd.:


Hindustan Unilever Ltd. is India’s largest fast-moving consumer goods company based in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It is owned by the British-Dutch company Unilever which controls 52% majority stake in HUL.

HUL was formed in 1933 as Lever Brothers India Limited and came into being in 1956 as Hindustan Lever Limited through a merger of Lever Brothers, Hindustan Vanaspati Mfg. Co. Ltd. and United Traders Ltd. It is headquartered in Mumbai, India and has an employee strength of over 16,500 employees and contributes to indirect employment of over 65,000 people. The company was renamed in June 2007 as “Hindustan Unilever Limited”.

Lever Brothers started its actual operations in India in the summer of 1888, when crates full of Sunlight soap bars, embossed with the words “Made in England by Lever Brothers” were shipped to the Kolkata harbour and it began an era of marketing branded Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG).

Hindustan Unilever’s distribution covers over 2 million retail outlets across India directly and its products are available in over 6.4 million outlets in the country. As per Nielsen market research data, two out of three Indians use HUL products.

Rin is a home care brand of Hindustan Unilever Ltd. Rin was launched in India as a bar in 1969 with the iconic lightning mnemonic. It is a blue colour detergent. It is readily available in the market in form of powder and cake. Rin bar, Rin powde , Rin Jasmine powder and Rin Matic are four variants of the detergent. Rin was re launched in the year 2008.

2. Tide from Proctor and Gamble:

William Procter was a candle maker and James Gamble was a soap maker. They had emigrated from England and Ireland respectively. They settled in Cincinnati initially and met when they married sisters, Olivia and Elizabeth Norris. Alexander Norris, their father-in-law, called a meeting in which he persuaded his new sons-in-law to become business partners. On October 31,
1837, as a result of the suggestion, Procter & Gamble was born. In 1993, Procter & Gamble Home Products is incorporated as a 100% subsidiary of The Procter & Gamble Company, USA. Procter & Gamble Home

Products launch Ariel Super Soaker. In the same year Procter & Gamble India divests the Detergents business to Procter & Gamble Home Products.

P&G Home Products Limited is one of India’s fastest growing Fast Moving Consumer Goods Companies that has in its portfolio P&G’s global brands such as Ariel and Tide in the Fabric Care segment.

Tide is household care brand of Proctor and Gamble. It is called Alo or Ace in some countries. It is the brand-name of a popular laundry detergent , first marketed in its present form in 1949. The original Tide laundry detergent was a synthetic designed specifically for heavy-duty and machine cleaning. Today, most formulations of liquid Tide are dark blue, with the exception of “Tide Free”, which is clear.

The Tide trademark is an easily recognized, distinctive orange-and-yellow bulls-eye. This original logo was designed by Donald Deskey, an architect and famous industrial designer. Tide was the first product to be nationally packaged using Day-Glo colors —strikingly eye-catching when first introduced. The logo was slightly modified for the product’s fiftieth anniversary in 1996, and remains in use today.

Tide detergent is available in white powder, soap cakes and liquid detergents.

These brands have a lot on stake and they guard their brand fiercely

3. Sprite from The Coca-Cola Company:


The Coca-Cola company is an American multinational beverage corporation and
manufacturer, retailer and marketer of non-alcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups. The company is best known for its flagship product Coca-Cola. Besides its namesake Coca-Cola beverage, Coca-Cola currently offers more than 500 brands in over 200 countries or territories and serves over 1.7 billion servings each day. Sprite is one of its brands.

Sprite was introduced in the United States in 1961 to compete against 7 Up. In the 1980s, many years after Sprite’s introduction, Coke pressured its large bottlers that distributed 7 Up to replace the competitor with the Coca-Cola product. In large part due to the strength of the Coca-Cola system of bottlers, Sprite finally became the market leader position in the lemon-lime soda category in 1978.

4. Mountain Dew from Pepsi Co.:
Pepsi Co. Inc. is an American multinational corporation headquartered in Purchase, New York, United States, with interests in the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of grain-based snack foods, beverages, and other products. PepsiCo was formed in 1965 with the merger of the Pepsi-Cola Company and Frito-Lay, Inc. PepsiCo has since expanded from its namesake product Pepsi to a broader range of food and beverage brands, the largest of which include an acquisition of Tropicana in 1998 and a merger with Quaker Oats in 2001 – which added the Gatorade brand to its portfolio as well. Indra Krishnamurthy Nooyi has been the chief executive of PepsiCo since 2006. Based on net revenue, PepsiCo is the second largest food & beverage business in the world. In the early 1960s the company product line expanded with the creation of Diet Pepsi and purchase of Mountain Dew.

Mountain Dew is the second largest Pepsi Co. brand selling globally, according to their annual report of 2009. Mountain Dew (currently stylized as Mtn Dew) is a carbonated soft drink brand produced and owned by PepsiCo. The Mountain Dew brand and production rights were acquired by the Pepsi-Cola company in 1964, at which point its distribution expanded more widely across the United States.Between the 1940s and 1980s, Mountain Dew consisted of a single citrus-flavored version. Diet Mountain Dew was introduced in 1988. 5. McDowells from United Breweries Group:


United Breweries Group is an Indian conglomerate company based in Bangalore, India. Its core business includes beverage, aviation, electrical and chemicals. United Breweries is India’s largest producer of beer with a market share of around 48% by volume. The company chairman is Vijay Mallya who had been a member of the Indian Parliament. United Breweries now has greater than a 40% share of the Indian brewing market with 79 distilleries and bottling units across the world.

McDowells is owned by United Breweries Group, a conglomerate. McDowells is a brand of Indian whisky. McDowell’s Platinum Whisky, McDowells Century Whisky and McDowell’s Green Label Whisky are some variants of the McDowell’s Whisky produced by UB Group.

6. Royal Stag from Pernod Richard:


Pernod Ricard is a French company that produces distilled beverages. Created by the link-up between Pernod and Ricard in 1975, Pernod Ricard has based its development on both organic growth and acquisitions. The purchase of part of the Seagram businesses (2001) and the acquisitions of Allied Domecq (2005) and Vin&Sprit (2008) have propelled the Group to the position of leader in the Premium segment and world co-leader in Wines & Spirits.

Royal Stag is Indian whisky brand owned by Pernod Ricard. French drinks giant Groupe Pernod Ricard’s Indian whisky Royal Stag is now the largest selling brand in its global portfolio of alcoholic beverages. Royal Stag, a semi-premium blended whisky

7. Horlicks from GlaxoSmithKline:


GlaxoSmithKline is a leading healthcare company. It is formed from merger of two leading organisations – GlaxoWellcome and Smithkline Beecham. It was established in the year 1958. GSK Consumer Healthcare Ltd and GSK Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Are the two businesses of GSK in India. GSK Consumer Healthcare Ltd. is headquartered at DLF Gurgaon.

Horlicks is a health drink from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). It has been traditionally targeted at elders and positioned as a ‘great family nourisher’. However, about five years ago, the communication was changed to ‘pleasurable family nourisher’ with the introduction of different flavours such as chocolate, vanilla and ‘elaichi’. Other variants of the health drink are Junior Horlicks, Womens’ Horlicks, Mothers’ Horlicks and Horlicks Lite for diabetic patients.

8. Complan from Heinz India Pvt Ltd.:


The H.J. Heinz Company, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is the most global of all U.S.-based food companies. Famous for our iconic brands on five continents, Heinz provides delicious, nutritious and convenient foods for families.

Heinz came to India in 1994 by taking over the Family Products Division of Glaxo with powerful brands such as Complan, Glucon-D, Nycil and Sampriti.

Complan – The COMplete PLANned Food – is a milk based nutritional health drink for children. It promises to enhance growth of its young consumers and make them taller than their peers who are non- complan consumers.It is available in six different flavours, namely, Chocolate, Kesar Badam, Strawberry, Mango, Caramel and Natural.

9. Sunfeast’s Yippee Noodles from ITC:


ITC Limited is an Indian public conglomerate company headquartered in Kolkata, West Bengal, India.[2] Its diversified business includes four segments: Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Hotels, Paperboards, Paper & Packaging and Agri Business. In 1901 Sir William Henry Wills formed the Imperial Tobacco Company from a merger of W.D. & H.O. Wills with seven other British tobacco companies. It started off as the Imperial Tobacco Company, and shares ancestry with Imperial Tobacco of the United Kingdom, but it is now fully independent, and was rechristened to Indian Tobacco Company in 1970 and then to I.T.C. Limited in 1974. The company is currently headed by Yogesh Chander Deveshwar. It employs over 26,000 people at more than 60 locations across India and is listed on Forbes 2000. ITC Limited completed 100 years on 24 August 2010.

ITC has a diversified presence in Cigarettes, Hotels, Paperboards & Specialty Papers, Packaging, Agri-Business, Packaged Foods & Confectionery, Information Technology, Branded Apparel, Personal Care, Stationery, Safety Matches and other FMCG products. While ITC is an outstanding market leader in its traditional businesses of Cigarettes, Hotels, Paperboards, Packaging and Agri-Exports, it is rapidly gaining market share even in its nascent businesses of Packaged Foods & Confectionery, Branded Apparel, Personal Care and Stationery.

In the FMCG sector ITC has launched noodles under its Sunfeast brand. ITC has always taken a very aggressive approach from the day it entered the FMCG sector and has been giving a very tough fight to the already established players because of the financial muscle that it has.

And ITC has taken the same approach for the newly launched noodles brand Sunfeast Yippee in the Indian market, which is dominated by Maggi from decades.

Case Studies – Analysis and Interpretation:

The following analysis presents the cases of unethical advertising between competing brands and an analysis of ethical advertising of Sunfeast’s Yippee Noodles from ITC Pvt. Ltd.

1. Rin V/s Tide:

Advertising Campaign of Rin:

Rin has been promoted by memorable campaigns like “Uski saari, meri saari se safed kaise” in the 90s to “Safedi ka Shehanshah” with Amitabh Bachchan. In 2007, Rin introduced the first ever shade in the laundry category, offering proof of whiteness to consumers with the “Kya Saboot Hai” campaign with Boman Irani.In 2008 Rin has been re launched and now provides “Dugni Safedi, Dugni Chamak”.

Advertising Campaign of Tide:

Tide is marketed under various sub-brands, such as “2x Ultra Tide”. In the late sixties and early seventies, it was branded as “Tide XK” (the XK standing for Xtra Kleaning), but it was rebranded simply as “Tide” later on.

An addition to the Tide family, “Tide Coldwater”, was formulated to remove stains while saving energy because it does not require hot or even warm water. “Tide Free” was marketed as being environmentally friendly. “Tide-To-Go” is a product packaged in a pen-like format and intended to remove small stains on the spot, without further laundering.

In most of Latin America, the Tide formula is marketed under the name “Ace” (except in Panama, where it is sold under the same Tide brand as is in current use in the U.S.). In Turkey, Tide is branded as “Alo”

“If its gotta be clean, it’s gotta be Tide” and “Chaunk Gaye !” are some of the famous tag lines used in Tide ads.


In a Rin TVC, it is crystal clear that the Tide logo has been shown in bad light. This time the Rin tagline read, “Tide se kahin behatar safedi de Rin”. This tagline bruised TIDE’s reputation as a brand.

Then again, this is not the first this has happened. There have been quite a few similar incidents and the campaign makers seem to be unfazed by these.
The TV ad watchdog Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has jumped into the fray to look into the claims made by P&G against HUL’s new campaign. Â HUL might have to face costly repercussions should ASCI be able to verify P&G’s claims.

ACSI is acting on the issue based on the various consumer complaints received and even generally, consumers have been unanimous with their support for the Tide brand (or the breach of conduct by Rin campaign).

When this ad was aired Rin’s market share was 4.8%,that is almost half of Tide’s market share of 8.8%. It is possible that this ad was aired to defame Tide as Rin could not compete in terms of market share.

This ad turned out to be a classic example of comparative advertising. It also brought to light the consumer connect with the brand and impact of advertising campaigns in brand positioning.

Ethical Issues: Direct defamation of a competing brand.

2. Sprite V/s Mountain Dew:

Advertising Campaign of Sprite:

Over the years, Sprite advertising has used the portmanteau word “lymon,” combining the words “lemon” and “lime,” to describe the flavor of the drink.

Sprite’s slogans in the 60s and 70s ranged from “Taste Its Tingling Tartness,” “Naturally Tart,” and “It’s a Natural!”

Sprite started its most memorable campaign in the early 1980s with the word “Great Lymon Taste makes it Sprite” which remained on the logo for many years.

By the 1980’s Sprite began to have a big following among teenagers, so in 1987 marketing ads for the product were changed to cater to that demographic. “I Like the Sprite in You” was their first long running slogan.

In 2007, a new Sprite logo, consisting of two yellow and green “halves” forming an “S” lemon/lime design, began to make its debut on Sprite bottles and cans. The slogan was changed from its long running “Obey Your Thirst” to just “Obey.” The advertisement themes received their first major change for this decade as well.

Advertising Campaign of Mountain Dew:

1950’s Mountain Dew advertisement sign in Tonto, Arizona showing the iconic cartoon “Willy the Hillbilly”.

PepsiCo (known then as The Pepsi-Cola Company) acquired the Mountain Dew brand in 1964, and shortly thereafter in 1973 the logo was modified as the company sought to shift its focus to a “younger, outdoorsy” generation. This direction continued as the logo remained the same through the 1970s, 1980s and into the late 1990s. Later updates to the logo were made in 1999 and again in 2005.[3] On October 15, 2008, the Mountain Dew logo was redesigned to “Mtn Dew” within the U.S. market, as a result of a PepsiCo rebranding of its core carbonated soft-drink products.

Their very famous tag line, “Darr ke age jeet hai!” appealed to the young consumers and specially the atheletic and adventurous kind.

Case: Countering the fearsome attitude of Mountain Dew, the third largest soft drink brand in US, Sprite came out a replacement of Dew’s popular tag line-‘ Cheetah Bhi peeta hai’. The Sprite version showed a man chasing a leopard, eventually lifting him and running towards the end goal pointing- ‘sirf cheetah hi nhi peeta insaan bhi peeta hai’. Living up to its image of – ‘No bakwas’, Sprite, once again hit the bull’s eye with, this commercial.

Ethical Issues: Direct defamation of competing brand.

3. McDowell’s Platinum Whisky V/s Royal Stag Whisky:
Case: – Royal Stag aired a TVC on October 27, 2010 in which Harbhajan Singh is in his father’s ball bearing industrial unit asking himself, ‘Have I made it large?’The commercial goes on with Harbhajan stating how the world today calls him ‘Turbanator’. The ad ends with the tagline – ‘It’s your life, Make it Large.’ This ad was spoofed for McDowell’s ad by Mudra advertising agency. A Harbhajan look alike is in a ball bearing factory. He asks himself, ‘Have I made it large?’; just then his father slaps him for making large balls instead of ball bearings. The ad ends with Dhoni’s witty comment – ‘Life mein agar kuch karna hai toh, large chodo, kuch alag karo.’the ad ends with a tagline – ‘McDowells, No.1 Spirit of Leadership.’

Evidently the commercial, is a dig on its rival brand and has taken a demeaning turn with all the buzz post its break-out. All of it includes a legal notice being sent to UB group Chairman, Vijay Mallya along with a public apology and a compensation seeking Rs 1, 00,000 as the cost of the notice. And the ranting is that it not only presents the father-son relationship of Harbhajan Singh and his dad in a scornful way but also accuses the sentiments of Sikh community, often made stooges of mockery. Finally, Vijay Mallya gave consent to withdraw the ad in the name of cricket. Ethical Issues: Making mockery of the Sikhs, portraying unpleasant relationship between Harbhajan and his father and lack of originality in the television commercial. 4. Horlicks V/s Complan:

Advertising Campaign of Horlicks:

The TV commercial had children going around the town, cheering, “Epang Opang Jhapang” – a chant without any meaning. However, the TVC showed their mothers deciding on the choice of health drink.

“Taller, Stronger and Sharper” is the latest tagline of Horlicks. GSK has backed its claims that consumption of Horlicks makes children “taller, sharper and stronger” with scientific data from the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), which is under the aegis of a central government body, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Advertising Campaign of Complan:

Complan ads have always targeted the younger generation. It has always promised to make their consumers taller than their peers who are non-consumers of Complan.

In its recent ads Complan has promised to make its consumers grow twice as fast. It states that the health drink contains 23 vital nutrients.

Case: Complan has always promised to make its young consumers taller. In Complan TVC it is seen that shorter kids’ friends coaxed them to request their mothers to give them Complan. Now, Horlicks has gone a step further in promising not only height, but a stronger body and a sharper mind. Horlicks wants the children to decide on their health drink. The new campaign for Horlicks gives the kids a motto: ‘Badlo Apne Bachpan ka Size’.

In a television commercial of Horlicks, two pairs of mother and son are seen comparing the two health drinks. In the ad Horlicks is shown to be more beneficial than Complan as it makes its consumers not only taller but sharper and stronger as well. Also Horlicks costs less than Complan. This advertisement explicitly denigrates Complan as a health drink and as a brand. It does so by emphasizing that Complan does not deliver as much benefits to its consumers as promised.

Ethical Issue: It is an example of mudslinging at a competitive brand, in the name of competition. It also influences the decision making of consumers in favour of Horlicks.
Any advertisement should only highlight its products good points and not throw light upon the deficiencies of the competing brand.

5. Sunfeast’s Yippee Noodles:

The Sunfeast Yippee TVC is a good example of an ethical advertisement on the basis of following three differentiating criteria:-
The first point used by Yippee to position itself as a better alternative over other noodle brands was that it was telling the customers that they should have the choice of variety of masala with two variants in their product portfolio – Classic and Magic. The stress was made upon the point that we want choices in each and everything in life so why not have a choice while having instant noodles.

The second point focused on the shape of the contents within the pack. The contents in other options available are in rectangular shape which have to be broken which leads to short pieces of noodles, where as in Yippee noodle pack the cake is in round shape which keeps the noodles intact and long and smooth.

Then third thing that it focuses upon is the fact that other noodles must be had immediately after it is cooked as after sometime the taste deteriorates and you cannot have it, where as Yippee noodles promises that they can even be had after some time.


In conclusion it can be said that advertising is the most powerful and impactful tool of companies in promoting their products.
In this era of information technology and internet, competition in most consumer markets is cut- throat. In any sector, be it alcohol and beverages, detergents, or instant noodles there exists stiff competition.

In order to gain higher market share and increase sales an effective advertisement is a must. Therefore big companies outsource their advertising
campaign to advertising agencies.

On many occasions the competing brands have crossed the line and defied the Code of Ethics as given by ASCI and laws passed by the government.
Being ethical is paramount in advertising. Mostly big brands and big companies don’t lie and practice unethical means of advertising for a brand only loses its goodwill when it opts for unethical advertising practices. Also, viewers and consumers begin to lose their faith in advertisements.

Hence, to reinstate the trust of viewers, existing consumers and prospective consumers Government and Non-Government Self –Regulating bodies exist. They function as watch dogs and direct companies and advertising agencies in case of mudslinging and advertising tussle.


1. A company and/or an advertising agency must do an in depth study of the culture, traditions and beliefs of their target audience.

2. The work culture of the place must also be kept in mind while airing or publishing an advertisement.

3. Standard Code of Ethics must be obliged with at all times.

4. Sentiments and macro mind sets of the target audience must be thoroughly studied before and advertisement copy is prepared.


Cite this page

Ethic in Advertising. (19 April 2016). Retrieved from

"Ethic in Advertising" StudyScroll, 19 April 2016,

StudyScroll. (2016). Ethic in Advertising [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 26 June, 2022]

"Ethic in Advertising" StudyScroll, Apr 19, 2016. Accessed Jun 26, 2022.

"Ethic in Advertising" StudyScroll, Apr 19, 2016.

"Ethic in Advertising" StudyScroll, 19-Apr-2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 26-Jun-2022]

StudyScroll. (2016). Ethic in Advertising. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 26-Jun-2022]

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