The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), responding to a consumer complaint about Airtel’s 4G speed challenge ads, has sent a notice to the telecom operator saying the ad campaign is misleading. The watchdog has also asked Airtel to either withdraw or modify the ad campaign, or seek a review of the decision.
The advertisement was launched in August after Airtel announced nationwide 4G services rollout. Called Airtel Challenge, it says: “If your network is faster, we will pay your mobile bills for life.”
The ASCI order (via Livemint) to Airtel, states, “The claim in the ad, ‘Airtel 4G is the fastest network ever’ and ‘If your network is faster, we will pay your mobile bills for life’, is misleading by omission in the absence of appropriate disclaimers in the print, TV, [and] hoarding advertisements. The advertisement contravened Chapter 1.4 of the code… We have advised the Advertiser to withdraw or to modify appropriately the said advertisement before 7 October 2015 or seek a review of the decision. If you continue to see the advertisement after the due date, kindly bring the same to our notice.”
Chapter 1.4 of the ASCI Code reads, “Advertisements shall not contain statements or visual presentation which directly or by implication or by omission or by ambiguity or by exaggeration are likely to mislead the consumer about the product advertised or the advertiser or about any other product or advertiser.”
Bharti Airtel responded on Thursday, saying its 4G speed challenge ad campaign is based on rigorous tests and that it will engage with the advertising industry watchdog to clear whatever misconceptions that may have cropped up on that.
“4G technology is proven to deliver the fastest internet experience, and the same has been accepted globally,” the company said in a statement to IANS.
“As the only commercial providers of this world class technology in India, our advertising campaign revolves around the 4G promise of fastest internet speeds and features a set of claims that are based on rigorous test conditions,” it added.
The company said it was engaging with the Advertising Standards Council of India to provide it with necessary technical data in support of the advertising claims — and that the prescribed process was being followed to schedule a review of the issue.