Author – Chitwandeep Kaur
Advertising Standards Council of India
In India, there is only one body for Self-Regulation in Advertising – the ASCI, which is concerned with safeguarding the interests of consumers whilst monitoring/guiding the commercial communications of Practitioners in Advertising on behalf of advertisers, for advertisements carried by the Media, in their endeavours to influence buying decisions of the Consuming Public.
It has implemented a Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising. It is a commitment to honest advertising and to fair competition in the market-place. It stands for the protection of the legitimate interests of consumers and all concerned with advertising – advertisers, media, advertising agencies and others who help in the creation or placement of advertisements.
ASCI encourages the public to complain against advertisements which they consider to be false, misleading, offensive or unfair. All of these complaints are evaluated by an independent Consumer Complaints Council (CCC).
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has recently released guidelines for promotion and advertising of crypto and NFTs with a view to protect consumers from misleading and exploitative ads. The regulatory body has come up with the protocols after consulting with industry experts and the government.
The guidelines come right after this year’s budget which announced a 30 percent ‘crypto tax’ on all digital assets and a 1 percent TDS for each crypto-related transaction.
According to ASCI, all advertising for virtual digital assets and services needs to follow the following guidelines :
- The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) wants this disclaimer prominently displayed on ads and promotions related to virtual digital assets (VDAs) like cryptos or non-fungible tokens (NFT)“Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions.”Provided that such disclaimer shall be PROMINENT and UNMISSABLE by an average consumer:
- In print or static, in an easy-to-read font, against a plain background, and to the maximum font size afforded by the space.
- In video, at the end of the advertisement against a plain background, must contain disclaimer in text in voice over. In the case of long format video of over two minutes, disclaimer should be repeated at the beginning and at the end of the video. The disclaimer must remain on screen for a minimum of five seconds.
- In audio, the disclaimer must be spoken at the end of the advertisement. In the case of long format audio of over 90 seconds, the said disclaimer should be repeated at the beginning and at the end of the audio.
- In social media posts, such a disclaimer must be carried in both – the caption as well as any picture or video attachments.
- In disappearing stories or posts unaccompanied by text, the said disclaimer will need to be voiced at the end of the story.
- The disclaimer in limited space must be used “Crypto products and NFT’s are unregulated and risky” followed by a link to the full disclaimer.
- must be made in the dominant language of the advertisement
- must meet the minimum requirements of guidelines;
- Words “currency“, “securities“, “custodian” and “depositories” not to be used;
- Not be contradictory to information or warnings that the regulated entities provide to customers;
- Shall contain clear, accurate, sufficient and updated information on cost and profitability of VDA products;
- Not provide partial of biased information on past performance;
- Not include return for period of less than 12 months;
- Must clearly state name and contacts details of advertiser;
- Not display any minor dealing with the product;
- Not portray that VDA products solve money problems, personality problems or other such drawbacks;
- Not contain statements that promise or guarantee future increase in profits;
- Not display that VDA is easy or downplay the risks;
- Not be compared to any other regulated asset class;
- Celebrities or prominent personalities who appear in VDA advertisements must ensure that they have done their due diligence about the statements and claims made in the advertisement, so as not to mislead consumers.
The guidelines will be applicable to all virtual digital asset-related ads released on or after April 1, 2022. Advertising agencies and Media houses must also ensure that all earlier advertisements must not appear in the public domain unless they comply with the guidelines, post the 15th of April 2022.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.