Government Releases Draft Guidelines on Advertising

  • The government has come out with a comprehensive set of draft guidelines on advertising under which “disclaimers” that are not easily noticeable by or legible or easily understandable to an ordinary consumer will be treated as misleading advertisements under the Consumer Protection Act.
  • Celebrity endorsements through personal tweets, blogs, posts and other testimonials should be based on adequate information about or experience with the product or service being endorsed, according to the first draft of the advertising code released by the government.
  • While the proposed guidelines touch upon imitation advertising, comparative advertising, bait advertising, surrogate advertising, puffery in advertising, it also includes brand endorsers.
  • Advertisers and their agencies will now have to be more watchful of violations. Abiding by the ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) code was voluntary.
  • These guidelines now being part of the CPA (Consumer Protection Act), make them enforceable.
  • The advertising code was drafted by the Central Consumer Protection Authority under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 and is aimed at curbing unfair trade practices such as misleading claims made by advertisers.
  • It holds manufacturers, service providers, advertising agencies as well as brand endorsers accountable for any misleading claims.
  • Once notified, these guidelines will cover “all advertising and marketing communications regardless of form, format or medium.

       Comparative advertising:

(1) In order for a comparative advertisement to be considered permissible, it: (a) shall be factual, accurate and capable of substantiation; (b) shall not present a good or service as an imitation or replica of a good or service with a protected trademark or trade name;

       Bait advertising:

(1) an advertisement shall not seek to entice consumers to purchase a good or service without a reasonable prospect of selling the advertised good or service at the price offered.

       Surrogate advertising:

(1) Advertisements for goods or services whose advertising is otherwise prohibited or restricted by law shall not circumvent such restrictions by purporting to be advertisements for other goods or services, the advertising of which is not prohibited or restricted by law.


An advertisement may, subject to the provisions of these guidelines, make a claim in the nature of obvious exaggeration, in the nature of a claim that a reasonable consumer is unlikely to take literally: Provided that any objective claim made in an advertisement shall be supported by evidence and be capable of substantiation and shall make clear the aspect of the good or service that is claimed to be superior to another good or service.