The new advisory clarifies that only advertisers and advertising agencies in the food and health sector are required to upload annual self-declaration certificates on designated platforms. The Broadcast Seva portal is to be used for TV and radio advertisements, while the Press Council of India’s portal is for print media and internet advertisements.

This advisory follows the Supreme Court’s order dated 7 May 2024, and supersedes the previous advisories issued on 3 June 2024 and 5 June 2024.

Advertisers and advertising agencies in the food and health sectors will now have to upload their annual self-declaration certificates on appropriate platforms and provide proof of the same to media stakeholders such as TV channels, newspapers and internet advertising agencies.

MIB’s advisory also emphasizes that it is the responsibility of advertisers and advertising agencies to ensure that all advertisements comply with applicable Indian laws, rules and regulations.

With this MIB clarification, can the industry now breathe a sigh of relief?

(L-R) Atan Roy, Dr. Ravinder Verma and Manas Gulati(L-R) Atan Roy, Dr. Ravinder Verma and Manas Gulati

(L-R) Atan Roy, Dr. Ravinder Verma and Manas Gulati

Atan Roy, Senior Vice President, Ogilvy

If you look at things through the lens of the hierarchy of needs, food, health and shelter are basic human needs. The regulations recommended by the Supreme Court for the food and health sectors are a step in the right direction to ensure consumer protection along with brand messages and product claims.

However, I hope it will be extended to other important sectors like real estate.

The declaration is intended to act as a deterrent to certain brands and companies, keeping them away from reckless, irresponsible marketing and misleading, unsubstantiated claims. If, even after submitting a self-declaration, misleading messages appear, the liability now falls on the brand itself, and can be brought to bear, thus ensuring that brands live up to their messages and claims. Consider and weigh them before broadcasting.

There is a lot of confusion among most of the clients about how to submit the declaration. Perhaps a free online crash course recommended by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will be helpful.

Additionally, the definition of food and health needs to be explained to brands and companies for better compliance.

Dr. Ravinder Verma, Brand Manager, RightBite Max Protein

This approach ensures that critical areas affecting public health receive the necessary attention. By starting with the food and health sectors, we can learn valuable lessons and develop best practices.

These insights will help us extend these protocols to other categories in the future. Ultimately, this will contribute to a more comprehensive regulatory framework, promoting consumer protection and industry accountability.

Implementing the self-declaration certificate mandate presents challenges such as ensuring stakeholder understanding, managing increased documentation, and maintaining campaign efficiency. Streamlining the internal review process and using digital tools will help reduce administrative burden.

Additionally, collaboration with industry bodies to share best practices and advocate for more flexible practices will further facilitate the transition.

Manas Gulati, Co-Founder & CEO, #ARM Worldwide

Limiting the self-declaration requirement to only the food and health sectors is a practical and strategic decision to initiate significant regulatory changes. This will ensure strict compliance and monitoring where it matters most, potentially reducing risks to public health and safety.

More honest and informative messaging will enable end consumers to make informed decisions about their health and nutrition. Additionally, in the long run, these raised standards will likely encourage companies to improve quality and safety, which will benefit the industry.

Conducting comprehensive training sessions for advertisers and agencies and establishing dedicated compliance teams will further streamline the process. Regular feedback loops with existing regulatory bodies will be critical to promptly address concerns, queries, and inputs from industry stakeholders, to ensure a smooth implementation.

Increased regulatory scrutiny does not necessarily limit creative freedom. Understanding the regulations and integrating them into the creative process from the start allows advertisers to create compelling campaigns that are legally sound, foster trust and effectiveness without stifling creativity.

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