Lloyd Mathias suggests creating an industry-wide rating system for advertisers, similar to CRISIL’s credit rating. Misleading ads, as determined by an independent body like ASCI, would lower the advertiser’s rating.

Supreme Court Action Against Patanjali

On May 7, 2024, the Supreme Court criticized Patanjali Ayurved for continuing to publish misleading ads despite a directive from November 2023. The court demanded stricter regulations, directing the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) to enhance enforcement within a month.

MIB’s Overreaction

In response, the MIB mandated that every ad be accompanied by a self-declaration certificate (SDC) uploaded on respective portals for TV, cinema, radio, print, and digital ads. Media owners were prohibited from airing ads without SDCs, creating a logistical nightmare given the volume of ads.

Industry Disruption

– The SDC requirement increased workload and costs, disrupted ad campaign timelines, and stifled creativity.

– Large advertisers pushed the burden onto agencies, while smaller advertisers struggled to comply, some ceasing ads altogether.

– Media owners anticipated a significant drop in ads, particularly impacting new and topical ads during major events.

– There was no clarity on handling influencer advertising and social commerce, further complicating compliance.

Ineffectiveness and Proposed Solutions

The MIB’s measures lacked a mechanism for effective evaluation and monitoring. Mathias proposed:

1. An industry-wide rating system to penalize misleading ads.
2. A name-and-shame approach to deter chronic offenders.
3. Reducing bureaucratic processes and placing the onus on rogue advertisers.
4. Utilizing AI to detect misleading content.

The hope is that MIB will reconsider its approach to effectively protect consumers without overburdening the industry.

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