Analysis Of ASCI Annual Report 2023-24





The aim of advertisements is to persuade its target audience to consume certain products or services. While there are certain guidelines that all advertisements must follow while doing so, over the years many advertisements have been found to be deviating from them – putting out dishonest, misleading, offensive or harmful ads that end up hurting or impairing consumers.

The Advertising Council of India (ASCI), which was established in 1985, is the self-regulatory body of the Indian Advertising Industry, aiming to actively work against such harmful advertisements by identifying them and taking the necessary corrective measures.

The ASCI released its annual complaints report for the period of April 2023 to March 2024, which aimed to highlight the advertisements that were reported and found to be objectionable that year. Out of the 8229 advertisements scrutinized by the ASCI, 98% of them required some or the other modification, out of which 49% were promptly modified or withdrawn. Reflecting the digital age, 85% of the advertisements appeared on the digital medium. The Healthcare sector emerged as the most violative sector of the year, with Illegal Offshore Betting and Personal Care emerging as a close second and third. Non-disclosure by influencers became apparent as a major issue, with 19% of all advertisements being processed by ASCI for the same.

There was an overall increase in the number of complaints and advertisements processed this year in comparison to the previous years with Suo Motu and general public complaints being the largest sources. 42% of the digital media complaints emerged from Instagram, with 30% from miscellaneous websites and 17% from Facebook.

When it came particularly to influencer violations, 76% of the cases were not contested and were modified on an average of 5 business days. The top 5 sectors that faced influencer violations were Personal Care, Fashion and Lifestyle, Food and Beverage, Edutech, Baby Care. However, as of May 13th, 2024 – there was an 89% compliance rate by influencers in comparison to the 86% of the previous year. There was also 89% compliance from celebrities, with Personal Care, Food and Beverage, Illegal/Betting, Health Care and Durables surfacing as the most violative sectors.

3200 of the advertisements scrutinized were reported for direct violation of the law. Advertising of certain products is banned under various laws. Most of these advertisements
were seen on digital media which is the playground for brands to advertise these products. These included advertisements of Illegal Betting, Drugs and magic remedies, Liquor Promotions along with E-cigarettes and Vapes.

ASCI looked at a total of 1575 advertisements in the Health Care sector out of which 99% required modification. While 1249 advertisements were processed for violating the law under the DMR Act from the remaining 326 advertisements, 190 were from clinics /hospitals / wellness centres making tall misleading claims about their services, care and cure to chronic conditions. 129 advertisements from pharma companies for drugs and medicines with claims around prevention and cure, superior quality and leadership. Medical supplies and health apps constituted the remaining 7 ads. 86% of these advertisements featured on digital medium.

ASCI also scrutinised 1064 advertisements in the Personal Care sector with 98% of them requiring modification. 67% of these advertisements were not contested. These are instances where advertisers acknowledge the error made in the advertisements and promptly modify it or take it down. 95% of these advertisements appeared on the digital medium with 55% picked for influencer disclosure violations. 20 advertisements featuring celebrities were found to be misleading.

The recent press release by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), granting the Central Consumer Protection Authority the authority to adjudicate on ASCI non-compliant advertisements, marks a significant shift in regulatory oversight. This development raises intriguing questions about the potential impact of strengthened ASCI compliance measures on the advertising landscape. Observing how these enhanced powers translate into more rigorous advertising standards and consumer protection will be particularly compelling in next year’s assessment. It could herald a new era of accountability and transparency in Indian advertising, promising a clearer and fairer marketplace for consumers and businesses alike.

Authors: Bhumika Sharma & Sunayana Jain



Interns and Paralegals.


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