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Fashion & lifestyle influencers top list of influencer advertising guidelines violations: ASCI

The report is based on ASCI's monitoring efforts of the guideline between July-December 2021.

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Mumbai: The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has released a report on influencer advertising that lists brands and influencers that failed to comply with the guidelines set by the industry body for influencer advertising. Fashion and lifestyle influencers topped the list of category violations, according to the report that is based on ASCI's monitoring efforts of the guideline in the period July-December 2021.

Ads without disclosures fell predominantly under four categories, according to the report, with fashion and lifestyle violators forming a majority at 29 per cent, followed by ads in the Cosmetic (19 per cent), food & beverage (13 per cent), and personal care (12 per cent) categories respectively.

The report listed some of the key violations observed as 'absence of disclosures,' 'inconsistency of disclosure,' such as, in Instagram stories, while the first story may have the disclosure, the ones after that did not have a disclosure, and 'incorrect disclosure placement' – wherein the disclosure labels were not placed in a manner that was easily visible to the audience. For example, the viewer had to scroll down/click read more to see the disclosure.

ASCI launched the Guidelines for Influencer Advertising in Digital Media on 27 May 2021 to ensure transparency of branded promotions on social media by influencers. The guidelines came into effect on 14 June 2021.

Through its partnership with Reech, ASCI started suo motu screening of social media platforms as well as handling end-consumer complaints in July 2021. Over a span of six months, it screened about 5000 posts/ stories/ feeds from influencer handles and completed processing of 719 posts which were considered to be prima facie violations of the guidelines.

Out of the total complaints processed, 21 per cent originated from end consumers, the rest were picked up suo motu through the industry body’s AI-based surveillance. Most complaints from end consumers were from Instagram feeds and stories, as per the report.

Out of the 719 posts processed, 577 (80 per cent) influencers voluntarily amended/withdrew their posts, said the report. Of the remaining 142 complaints, 121 were upheld by ASCI's Consumer Complaints Council and influencers were asked to withdraw or modify their posts. In all, ASCI recommendations received 86 per cent compliance from influencers.

Some of the influencers and brands who were in breach of the guidelines and who failed to comply with disclosure labels on the first and subsequent routine checks included Bollywood personalities Jacqueline Fernandez for Colorbar Cosmetics, Ranveer Singh for Manyavar Creations and Urvashi Rautela, and fashion influencer Sonam Babani of Instagram-handle @fashioneiress, among others.

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