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ASCI calls out Byju’s, Voot and Mobikwik for misleading ads

Image Credit: Flickr User Thomas Hobbs under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Advertising Standards Council of India’s (ASCI) Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) has upheld complaints (pdf) against 171 advertisements during January 2018. Out of which, 118 belonged to the healthcare sector, 16 to the education sector, 10 to the food & beverages category, five to personal care and 22 were from the ‘others’ category.

The ‘education’ category includes online learning app Byju’s, for claims like “One Crore students are learning from BYJU’s- The Learning App and that it has a 600 member strong R&D team is involved in creating the best learning program for students and that 93% parents reported an overall increase in their children’s grades after using BYJU’s,  and that 90% students renew their BYJU’s course year on year and 51 minutes spent on the app on an average by a student everyday”. ASCI said that these claims were not substantiated with supporting data and are rather misleading by exaggeration.

In ‘others’ category, the council also called out media company Viacom 18 Media P. Ltd for its video streaming app, Voot. Outlining its code’s definition of Advertising, ASCI stated that “any communication which in the normal course would be recognised as an advertisement by the general public would be included in this definition even if it is carried free-of-charge for any reason”. Therefore, promotion and content vide web-site, email, TV promo, paid or unpaid, has to be considered as Advertising. It was concluded that while the overall promo TVC was not objectionable, the two specific scenes viz a minor walking nearby a swimming pool and a young boy walking on the pavement, both shown watching video on Voot app while wearing earphones, shows unsafe/dangerous practices without justifiable reason, manifests a disregard for safety and encourages negligence. The actions shown are likely to encourage minors to emulate such acts in a manner which could cause harm or injury.

The same category also includes payment wallet app Mobikwik for falsely cashback offer. The advertisement’s claim, “Save 100% on first bus booking on Mobikwik. Max Rs.750”, was misleading by omission to mention that the offer is subject to terms and conditions, ASCI said in its statement.

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