Imagine you went to a fresh juice shop and ordered a litchi juice. You were just chatting with your friend, while from the corner of your eye you noticed that the shop owner has nicely prepared the content of your glass with approximately ¼ Litchi juice, ½ apple juice (or similar) and ¼ water/ice. What would your natural reaction be? Wouldn’t it be, Bhai saab I asked for a Litchi Juice, not a sharbat or a mix fruit juice!

And how would you react, if you come to know that one of the well reputed brands, Tropicana’s, Litchi Delight (Fruit Juice) comprises of concentrated apple juice 3.2% and Litchi Pulp 1.8%. To me it was a shock that it was made up of only 1.8% Litchi pulp, but what is more surprising is that the apple juice percentage (3.2%) is way greater than the Litchi pulp quantity. And to top it all the packaging completely depicts Litchi all over the carton without any hint of apple whatsoever.

 
And it is on this basis, that while upholding a complaint by a consumer against Tropicana Litchi Delight, ASCI, a body committed to the cause of Self-Regulation in Advertising, ensuring the protection of the interests of consumers, mentioned that, “It was noted that the…list of ingredients on the pack mention concentrated apple juice 3.2% and Litchi Pulp 1.8%, which means the apple content, is more than litchi. It was concluded that the product packaging contravened Chapter I.4 of the ASCI Code and Clause 8 of the Guidelines on Advertising of Foods & Beverages (“Claims in advertisements should not be inconsistent with information on the label or packaging of the food or beverage.”).” *

The ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) body in the same press note released on 21 Nov 2016 states that “In August 2016, ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) upheld complaints against 152 out of 209 advertisements.”

The advertisements that ASCI has asked to withdraw/modify comprises ads by big brands like ITC (Aashirvaad Sugar Release Control Atta), Tata Sky, Shri Ram Hospital, Cadila Healthcare Ltd, Godfrey Phillips India Ltd., PepsiCo India Holdings P. Ltd. (Tropicana), HUL (Dove soap), Nivea India Pvt. Ltd. and many others.

Out of 152 advertisements against which complaints were upheld, 27 belonged to the Healthcare category, 66 to the Education category, followed by 17 in the Food & Beverages category, 10 in Personal Care Category, 5 in clothing and accessories category and 27 advertisements from other categories.

As per the process of ASCI, if a complaint is upheld against a brand, a notice is sent to the concerned brand to Withdraw/Modify the advertisement to comply with the regulations. And yes, most of the brands do take the necessary action which is either withdraw or modify the ad to comply with the regulations.

In an article in Mint***, Ms. Shweta Purandare, secretary general, ASCI said that, “The compliance rate from the advertiser has been high. Almost 80 to 90% of them comply with the codes and the same holds true for the August report as well. As far as consumers are concerned, ASCI make sure to take swift action as soon as we receive a complaint which reassures their faith in us”

But the point that arises here is that the ads, which have delivered millions of impressions (by the time they are withdrawn/modified) have already created a certain perception in the minds of the consumers.

To give you an idea of the impressions created on the top 10 Hindi channels only, below is the data from Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC). BARC India is an industry body, to design, commission, supervise and own an accurate, reliable and timely television audience measurement system for India.**

 
To put this in marketing terms, as per the principle of ‘positioning’, the brand through their communication such as advertisements/packaging has already occupied the highly prized space in the mind of the consumer i.e. the brand has created a position for itself in the mind of the consumer. And, in most of the cases, the ads/packaged items in the superstore shelves have already triggered the desired action i.e. the purchase of the product.

So will withdrawal or modification of the ad have any reverse impact on the million minds. I really doubt that.

Only a very few percentage of those consumers will ever come to know that such an ad/packaging (brand communication) was misleading and has been withdrawn/modified because of the false claims it made. But what about the rest?

Will we continue to drink apple Juice thinking its Litchi…Well I guess as long as it tastes like Litchi 🙂

References – *http://www.ascionline.org/images/pdf/asci_ccc_recommendations_august_2016.pdf

** http://www.barcindia.co.in/statistic.aspx

***http://www.livemint.com/Consumer/x7kMbken3vHu0v8TVAFj5H/Tropicana-ITCs-Aashirvaad-atta-Tata-Sky-ads-found-to-be-m.html

Published with permission from Author

 

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Eklovya Jain

Eklovya is an expert in Higher Education Admissions & Marketing. He is currently Marketing and Brand Manager at Shiv Nadar University. He has experience in brand strategy development & execution. He can be reached at @eklovyajain

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