In December 2013, Cadbury India relaunched Cadbury Eclairs as Cadbury Choclairs. And promised it would not stick to the gums or teeth. The sticky nature of Eclairs was a put-off.
Addressing this Rs800-crore Eclairs category, Cadbury ran a television campaign (TVC) annoucing the rebranding and saying it was no more sticky.
But people soon found out that nothing had changed and complaints were lodged against Cadbury's misleading advertisements with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). The consumer complaints council of ASCI found out that the company's claims in TV advertisements were not substantiated. The council concluded that the advertisements violated ASCI's Code for Self-Regulation of Advertising and thus the complaints were valid.
Cadbury India is among the 87 other companies, including Procter & Gamble Hygiene and Health Care Ltd (Wella color), Ranbaxy Laboratories (Ranbaxy Garlic Plus), Piramal Enterprises (Polycrol Xpress Relief for acidity), Dabur (Fem Bleach Cream), Bajaj Electricals (Bajaj CFL Bulbs), and Emami (Zandu Sona Chandi Chyawanprash Plus), that are accused of running misleading advertisements in December 2013. The council has upheld all the complaints against the companies.
dna approached some of the big companies to understand why they adopt such practices. While Piramal Enterprises and Ranbaxy Laboratories did not respond till the time of going to print, a Dabur India spokesperson refused to comment on the ASCI matter.
Cadbury India, however, responded. Its spokesperson said: "We have appropriately responded to the query from ASCI, substantiating our claim on the Cadbury Choclairs television commercial. The commercial has been taken off the air and the matter closed some time ago."
Alan Collaco, ASCI secretary general, said if a complaint is found justified, the council asks the company to take off the advertisement or modify it if the company still wants to run it. "We also have monitoring systems in place... Over the years we have seen that 69% of the companies against whom complaints are lodged either withdraw or modify their advertisements," Collaco said.
Going tough on such advertisements, ASCI introduced various initiatives last year to ensure quick and strong action. The National Advertising Monitoring Service (NAMS) has helped the self-regulatory body cast its net wide on defaulting advertisers but an Online Complaint and Monitoring Service (OCMS) has made it easier for people to lodge complaints against misleading advertisements. "Additionally, ASCI started monitoring online ads and introduced Suspension Pending Investigation for taking quick action against advertisements that may be against public interest," Collaco said.
"These initiatives led to a five-fold increase in the number of complaints being lodged. We have seen 90% compliance rate from companies with misleading advertisements. In the case of companies that don't follow our instructions, we write to the ministry that decides on the next course of action."
In 2013, there were 1,842 complaints, of which 1,477 were upheld by the council. Of these misleading advertisements, 40% were in the education sector and 36% in the personal and health care category.
Claims fall flat
Cadbury India Ltd: Cadbury Choclairs, originally known as Eclairs, does not stick to your teeth
Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd: Eating Ranbaxy Garlic Plus every day is more effective than eating raw or cooked garlic
Procter & Gamble Hygiene and Health Care Ltd: 'Wella color provides superior damage protection'
Dabur India Limited: Fem Bleach Cream is 'the first dermatologically tested bleach'
Emami Ltd: Zandu Sona Chandi Chyawanprash Plus gives a child a sharp brain like that of Einstein
Piramal Enterprises Ltd: Polycrol Xpress Relief 'can knock out acidity in 5 seconds'