“With great influence comes great responsibility”. That’s the motto of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). Ha, ha, and you thought you could hear something only in Spider-verse?! The ASCI guidelines for influencers and advertising on social media came into effect in June 2021.
Recently, ASCI released a list of 28 Instagram Influencers who were found flouting the guidelines. The list of non-compliant influencers includes names like Ranveer Singh, Jacqueline Fernandez, Sonam Babani, Nidhhi Agerwal, Tashveen Sehgal, Urvashi Rautela, Shereen, Karishma Sakhrani, Shlok Srivastava, and more.
They screened 5,000 posts, stories and feeds of influencers between July and December 2021.
Why were they on the list?
Their website reads: “The influencers and brands listed below are in breach of ASCI Guidelines for Influencers Advertising in Digital Media, for continuing to remain non compliant. The influencers and brands were contacted by the complaints handling team and were asked to comply with the guidelines. Those in this list failed to comply with disclosure labels on the first instance and on subsequent routine checks.”
Jacqueline Fernandez violated guidelines and didn’t add the disclosure label on a Colorbar Cosmetics IG post. In a Manyavar ad Ranveer Singh posted on his Instagram, he failed to add the disclosure tag. Other creators on the list too missed out clearly putting the disclosure tag.
In an OpIndia report, Manisha Kapoor, general secretary, ASCI said, “We hope this signals to the industry that we are serious about consumer protection and pushing the agenda around misleading ads. And that we will continue to educate, collaborate to reach out to more and more influencers and brands to spread the message of responsibility and transparency in advertising”.
What is ASCI?
ASCI is a voluntary self-regulatory organisation that was founded in 1985. This body protects the Indian Consumers’ interests through self-regulation in advertising. It comprises members from marketing, creative, media, and allied companies in India.
What are the ASCI guidelines laid down for Influencers?
– All advertisements published by social media influencers or their reps on their social media accounts must carry a disclosure label. This disclosure label has to clearly identify the content as an ad.
– The Disclosure label should be placed in a hard-to-miss manner. Not in the hashtags, not in About Me, Profile Bio, or end of the post or videos. But, these tags have to be at the beginning of the post. And. they have to be clearly identifiable.
– If the ad is a picture or a video post without any accompanying text like in Instagram Stories or SnapChat, the disclosure label has to be superimposed over the picture or the video.
– For Video ads, if the video is for 15 seconds or lesser, the disclosure label has to stay a minimum of 3 seconds. If the video is longer than 15 seconds but less than 2 minutes, the disclosure label should be visible for 1/3rd the length of the video. For any video of 2 minutes or longer, the disclosure label has to be there for the entire duration of the section in which promoted brand, its features or benefits, etc are mentioned.
– In the case of Live Streams, the disclosure has to be announced at the beginning and the end of the broadcast. If the post is visible after the live stream is over, disclosure has to be added in the text or the caption.
– If it is an audio post or media, the disclosure must be clearly announced at the beginning and end of the audio and before and after every break taken in between.
– The disclosure has to be in a manner that is clearly understood by an average consumer. Labels like Advertisement, Ad, Sponsored, Collaboration, Partnership, Employee, Free gift, etc, can be used.
– Disclosure should be in English or the language in which the ad is.
– The responsibility of disclosure of material connection and the content of the Advertisement is upon Advertiser and also upon the Influencer.
– In addition to Disclosure, it is upon the Influencers to have due diligence to review and satisfy themselves that “the advertiser is in a position to substantiate the claims made in the advertisement”.
Why is it important for Influencers or Creators to reveal the Disclosure tag?
Influencers are followed by millions or billions of people, any post or story they share holds the power to “influence” the masses. Their audiences engage with that sponsored post. And hence it becomes their moral responsibility to review and assess what brands their name gets associated with and to give full disclosure that it is a sponsored post. The line between original content and paid content is becoming blurrier by the day. Therefore, full disclosure is the need of the hour.
We, at TagMango, encourage all Creators to be transparent with their community and follow the guidelines to the T. We do the same.
To check out the full guidelines, click here.
Written by Rachna Srivastava