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With focus on kids, govt curbs misleading ads; prohibits surrogate advertisements

As per the guidelines, surrogate advertisement refers to an advertisement for products or services, whose advertising is otherwise prohibited or restricted by the law.

Written by Harikishan Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: June 11, 2022 7:15:10 am
With focus on kids, govt curbs misleading ads; prohibits surrogate advertisementsThe guidelines, notified on June 9, were released by consumer affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh and additional secretary Nidhi Khare at a press conference. (File)

An advertisement for junk foods, including chips, carbonated beverages and such other snacks and drinks shall not be advertised during a programme meant for children or on a channel meant exclusively for children, say new guidelines notified by the Centre to curb misleading advertisements.

The guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022, had been notified by the Department of Consumer Affairs on Thursday and have come into effect.

While the guidelines provide for regulation of bait, free claims and children-targeted advertisements, it prohibits surrogate advertisements.

The guidelines state: “An advertisement of any goods, product or service that addresses or targets children shall not – (a) be such as to develop negative body image in children; (b) give any impression that such goods, products or services are better than the natural or traditional food that children may be consuming.”

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“Under Section 2(28) of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, “misleading advertisement falsely describes a product or service; or gives a false guarantee to, or is likely to mislead the consumers as to the nature, substance, quantity or quality of a product or service; or conveys an express or implied representation, which, if made by the manufacturer or seller or service provider thereof, would constitute an unfair trade practice; or deliberately conceals important information”.

The guidelines, which have been finalised in consultation with the central ministries concerned, say: “Any advertisement that offers promotional gifts to persuade children to buy goods, product or service without necessity or promotes illogical consumerism shall be discouraged.”

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The guidelines, issued under Consumer Protection Act, 2019, also bars Indian citizens living abroad from endorsing such advertisements that have been barred for Indian professionals living in the country.

Endorsers are required to disclose their material connection with the endorsed product or service, the guidelines say, besides specifying “duties” of manufacturer, service provider, advertiser and advertising agency.

“No surrogate advertisement or indirect advertisement shall be made for goods or services whose advertising is otherwise prohibited or restricted by law, by circumventing such prohibition or restriction and portraying it to be an advertisement for other goods or services, the advertising of which is not prohibited or restricted by law,” states para 6 (1) of the guidelines.


Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh said: “Advertising is an important paradigm for consumer protection. The Consumer Protection Act has provision to handle misleading advertisements… But to make it more clear to the industry… the government has come out with very clear guidelines for fair advertising.”

Nidhi Khare, additional secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, said the guidelines would apply to “all ads regardless of form, format or medium”.

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First published on: 10-06-2022 at 01:25:38 pm
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