Advertisers who have doubts regarding the legitimacy of their advertisements can soon refer to a standard code that will help them make informed decisions. With the Advertising Standards Council of India’s (ASCI) official announcement about launching their ‘Copy Advice’ service, advertisers can now benefit from legit opinion on their advertisements, on whether the advertisement complies with its code and specific rules. Advertisers will benefit because ASCI norms are important considerations for advertisements and these codes will ensure that things happen smoothly.
The concept is not binding after request; however, compliance to the norms is expected. While the difference between pre-clearance and Copy Advice is that the pre-clearance is found where advertising is subject to statutory or co-regulation clearance, Copy Advice does not have an element of obligation—the advertiser looking for the advice in the first place or by following the advice. Currently, the ASCI do not offer pre-clearance of advertisements which is a compulsory examination of an advertisement before broadcast or publishing. Technically the process ensures compliance with legal, statutory or self-regulatory rules.
To understand Copy Advice in depth; advice will be provided by a panel consisting of the ASCI secretary general and nominated persons of the board all with more than 10 years of experience of working with the ASCI and/or the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC). The advice is free if you’re an ASCI member; as a non-member, expect to spend up to Rs 1,000 per advertisement.
A great advantage of getting Copy Advice done earlier on is that it saves time and money on campaigns which would have breached the ASCI code and rules anyway! Copy advice also protects an advertising agency or brand’s reputation.
An important note to be made here is that the advertiser themselves will be responsible to portray the truth and be genuine about their advertisements. Copy Advice given does not guarantee anything per se but it needs to be understood in the sense of protection. If a competitor or consumer made a complaint against an agency, the case could go from bad to worse if elements of obscenity, indecency, vulgarity and other such issues were present; if the general public has a problem, the advertiser would be in trouble that could have been saved with advice. Complaints can be dangerous things and when a complaint has been made, the ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council is not bound by the pre-publication or release of a Copy Advice previously offered by the ASCI’s Copy Advice panel.
The complaint could generate severe setbacks if the advertiser had chosen to not comply with the Copy Advice; and this is the crux of the matter. The advertiser would be expected to give a responsible statement to the effect of why they didn’t follow the code.