Advertisements for junk foods, including chips, fizzy beverages, and other snacks and drinks, are prohibited during children’s programming or on channels dedicated to children, according to new guidelines issued by the Centre to combat misleading advertising. The Department of Consumer Affairs told the public on Thursday that the Guidelines for the Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022, had gone into force. Consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh and assistant secretary Nidhi Khare announced the rules at a press conference on June 9.
While the guidelines regulate lure, free claims, and children-targeted marketing, they do not permit surrogate advertisements. “An advertisement for any goods, product, or service that addresses or targets children shall not – (a) be such as to develop negative body image in children; (b) give an impression that such goods, products, or services are better than the natural or traditional food that children may consume,” the guidelines state
“Misleading advertisement,” according to Section 2(28) of the Consumer Protection Act of 2019, “falsely describes a product or service; or gives a false guarantee to, or is likely to mislead consumers as to the nature, substance, quantity, or quality of a product or service; or conveys an express or implied representation, which, if made by the manufacturer, seller, or service provider thereof, would constitute an unfair trade practice; or deliberately conceals important information.”
According to the recommendations, which were developed in collaboration with the relevant central ministries, “any commercial that offers promotional gifts to induce youngsters to acquire commodities, products, or services without requirement or promotes illogical consumerism will be discouraged.”
The Consumer Protection Act, of 2019, also prohibits Indian residents residing overseas from endorsing commercials that are prohibited for Indian professionals living in the country. Endorsers must reveal their material link to the endorsed product or service, according to the standards, which also stipulate the “duties” of the manufacturer, service provider, advertiser, and advertising agency.
“No surrogate or indirect advertisement shall be made for goods or services whose advertising is otherwise prohibited or restricted by law, by circumventing such prohibition or restriction and portraying it as an advertisement for other goods or services whose advertising is not prohibited or restricted by law,” states paragraph 6 (1) of the guidelines.
“Advertising is a key paradigm for consumer protection,” stated Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh. The Consumer Protection Act includes provisions for dealing with misleading ads. But, to make things clearer for industry, the government has issued extremely specific guidelines for fair advertising.”
The standards, according to Nidhi Khare, additional secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, will apply to “all advertisements regardless of form, format, or media.”
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