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  • Raghav Sand

ASCI Stifles Surrogate Marketing

Surprisingly, it took the regulators a long time to put halt on blatant violations of the advertising code. The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), in conclusion to an investigation that commenced in 2020, has banned the proxy marketing of 12 liquor makes for violating its code.

The alcoholic beverages’ sellers in India have diligently tried to advertise their products through surrogate marketing practices. Merchandise, music CDs, packaged water and non-alcoholic beverages were some of the most commonly used vehicles to create awareness and drive sales. Such surrogate advertisements were seen in both visual and print media. Prominent hoardings along busy intersections were booked and there was nothing left to decode for the average consumer. Everyone knew what these advertisements were trying to advertise and entice.

The Game of Eyeballs

ASCI has not named the 12 brands it has penalized, but almost every known brand made it a point to knowingly apply deceptive tactics. Events like Indian Premier League (IPL) attract a huge audience across the age and income group spectrum. The biggest chunk of IPLs viewer base are males in the 18-45 age group. Though, women per capita alcohol consumption has risen much faster as compared to men, ads primarily focus on selling to the latter, bypassing societal stigma that still has separate prisms for lifestyle choices based on gender.

ASCI Statement

“All these advertisements were found to be in violation of the ASCI code, as advertisers failed to convince the Consumer Complaints Council that these were genuine brand extensions, or that they did not have direct or indirect cues of the category whose advertising is restricted or prohibited, said Manisha Kapoor, secretary general, ASCI.

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