A case has been lodged against Nestle India over safety standards of its Maggi product. The Food Safety and Drug Administration (FSDA) – Uttar Pradesh’s food regulator – had reportedly found monosodium glutamate and lead in excess of the prescribed limit in Maggi samples tested by it. Subsequently, cases have also been lodged against Bollywood actors Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit and Preity Zinta for promoting the ‘two-minute’ noodles brand.
Well, the Maggi issue is not an isolated instance where safety standards have been violated. There are advertisements which make unsubstantiated claims about its products. Take for example the fairness creams. These ads claim the product can brighten up the complexion of dark skinned people in a very short time. This is demeaning to people with dark skin tones as it claims only people with fair skin achieve professional success.
Most of these products are endorsed by top actors from the film industry. With a huge fan base and a demi-god like status that they enjoy in the country, these advertisements are passed off without any scrutiny. These ads do make an impact. The basic premise of the ads is that “bright is only fair” and people with dark skin tones are at a disadvantage when it comes to jobs and social standing.
Then there are TVC promotions which not only violate the basic standards, they also promote superstition. If one were to believe these promotions, they would tell you that certain garlands can ward off evil spirit from your home; wearing a certain kind of locket can ensure professional success and and even favourable judgment in court cases. These ads violate the provisions of code for self-regulation and as well as provisions of drugs and magic remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1954.
The other ads that are mushrooming the those promising instant slimming. They also falsely claim they can reduce many inches once one starts using the product. Same with hair growing ads. These are unsubstantiated and inappropriate.
Advertising is a ubiquitous and aggressive means to maintain market presence of products. With a strong recall value, these ads exploit the seemingly vulnerable situation of people. Unless the Advertising Standards Council of India cracks its whip and bring companies which flout rules to book, these misleading and rather obnoxious ads will continue to thrive.