Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Action taken by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) on surrogate liquor advertisements in the last few months, puts the spotlight on the rising number of consumer complaints against such advertisements.

In one of our previous posts "THE RISE OF SURROGATE ADVERTISEMENTS" we had discussed the factors which have lead to the birth of the same in India.

Between April and June this year, three liquor ads which were termed as 'surrogate' by the consumer complaints council (CCC) of ASCI, have been withdrawn. In case of a few other advertisements which ASCI felt were surrogate, assurance of compliance is awaited from the advertiser.

Among the ads which were withdrawn, is United Breweries' Kingfisher Premium ad which showed a visual depiction of a dancing couple with "packaged drinking water" written in fine print.

ASCI felt that the visual and the headline ("the night rocks") did not bear any relevance to the product advertised - packaged drinking water. In the absence of specific information, ASCI felt the advertisement appeared to be a surrogate advertisement for a liquor brand. Another ad which was withdrawn after being declared surrogate, was from Diageo India.

The complaint against this ad was that while it mentioned the brand name 'Johnnie Walker', it talked about CDs and cassettes, which bears no relation to the product or service being promoted. ASCI upheld the complaint against the advertisement, which was subsequently withdrawn.

Similar was the outcome of United Spirits' Antiquity ad. Though the ad stated "indulge in Blue Antiquity", it mentioned CDs and cassettes without showing any visual depiction of the same.

After ASCI's decision that it was indeed a surrogate advertisement, the advertiser informed the watchdog about the temporary suspension of the campaign as regards new ads. The existing advertisements of Blue Antiquity have been withdrawn.

Complaints against Seagram India's Royal Stag ("Make it large") and Chivas Regal (which mentioned CDs and cassettes in fine print) were also upheld by ASCI.

The complaint against Seagram's Royal Stag ad was that it showed photographs of sports personalities, though the line "make it large" has a connection with alcoholic drinks.

In absence of any visual depiction of cricket gear, and the mention of the brand name 'Royal Stag', the complainant felt that the advertisement was a surrogate ad for a liquor brand.

One of the Chivas Life ads mentioned "ice fishing in Alaska". The complaint against the ad was that while it mentioned CDs and cassettes in the fine print, there was no visual depiction of the same.

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