The Advertising Standards Council of India (Asci), the watch dog of the Indian advertising industry, has pulled up FMCG major Parle Agro for its new Parle LMN Juice television commercial. According to complaints, the TV commercial shows a dry, parched African site where natives are scrounging for water and the tagline of the advertisement reads – If you don’t have water, drink LMN Juice. “The situation in Africa and India is extremely grave with no water. The advertiser should not make a joke of this important situation,” according to Asci.
After reviewing the situation, Asci’s consumer complaints council (CCC) has upheld the complaint against that TV advertisement. “The TVC has nourished stereotypes about Africans and those are blatantly racist. The advertisement contravened the chapter III.1 (b) of the code. Thus, the complaint was upheld,” said Alan Collaco, secretary general of the Asci. As per the said code, no advertisements can deride any race, caste, colour, creed or nationality. The Asci has received complaints the TV commercial which was beamed on Set Max and Star Gold during the telecast of IPL and T20 World Cup matches.
In its response to Asci’s consumer complaints, Parle Agro has said that the idea behind the ad was not to make a joke out of water crisis in villages in India or Africa. “We have not shown any Indian or African village or ethnic habitat. We have shown a desert land. This desert could be anywhere in the world,” the company spokesperson said.
According to Collaco, Parle Agro has assured to modify its commercial for LMN Juice.
A few months back, Asci hauled up Airtel Digital TV after receiving consumer complaints across the country. After reviewing, the consumer complaints council upheld the complaints stating that the advertisement was misleading, as the viewer of the TVC was led to believe that Airtel Digital TV had superior picture quality compared to its rivals. Complying with ASCI's decision, Airtel Digital TV modified the ad.
Since January, the watchdog has been receiving over 220 complaints a month from consumers against misleading advertisements.