Advertisement - Code of Ethics

“Mr. ‘X’, a celebrity, has served notice for giving false and arbitrary information in ‘y’ ad …”

“Advertiser is sued because of broadcasting absurd or disrespectful ad …”

These sort of news we hear every now and then. More often, to increase the sell and achieve success in short span of time, some of the businesses/individuals make false promises, use unethical words, or claim oneself to be better than their competitors. All these acts are illegal.

Therefore, to avoid disputes or discrepancies, it is necessary to promote reasonable and fair competition, and protect everyone’s right, dignity, and integrity. For this to happen, rules of advertisement is legislated.

What is Code of Ethics for Advertisement?

Code of Ethics define the legal as well as ethical rules and norms of creating and broadcasting an ad. It restrains an advertiser to promote any product/service through unreliable, false, and immoral information.

Such kind of language and information may damage someone’s fundamental right, business reputation, and can stain their honor and dignity. So, the law prevents any sort of ad that infringes on public values, norms, and morality.

Further, it also discourages creation of any sort of ad that contains disrespectful comparison with other similar products (either of same nature or different) to maintain fair competition.

Purpose of Code of Ethics for Advertisement

While dealing with an advertisement, the most important point that you need to take care is — you need to develop a healthy, promising, and long-lasting public relationships.

The purpose of code of ethics is to maintain fair competition and protect the right of every individual. Code of ethics help advertisers set ethical standards to govern the ways of communication and develop self-regulatory ads. Ethical norms of advertising restrict ads that make false claims and are not within the normal standards of decency.

Legality of Advertisement

The following type of advertisements are considered as illegal/immoral and prohibited by the law −

  • False or Misleading Information − Any ad must not contain any sort of claim, which is false, deceptive, or ambiguous to public. It includes false promises, partial truth, exaggerated commitment, false price, etc. It is important to know that such kind of content is not limited only to verbal or written claim, but rather it is also applicable to images, video, and other sort of demonstration.

  • Inaccurate Testimonials − When a person gives his opinion or talks about his experiences regarding any product/service, he must not give fake information. Law discourages false and deceptive testimonials.

  • Provoking Statements − Any sort of statement, insulting phrase, immoral comparisons, etc. is prohibited. Insulting phrase includes any sort of disrespectful comment regarding a race, nationality, profession, cast, sex, social background, age, religion, language, etc.

  • Offensive Materials − All material used in an ad such as verbal and textual communication, audio, video, and images must be decent for the general public. Any material used in an ad, which is offensive, obscene, or indecent to the common people is outlawed as per the Standards of Practice.

Consequences of Broadcasting Unscrupulous Ad

If someone violates the code of conduct and disseminates unscrupulous ad by any means shall be liable to damages caused by the immoral or unlawful ad. He may be punished and ordered to pay −

  • A compensation amount (fixed by the court of law) equal to the harm done by him to the wealth, health, or life of a person or to any other legal entity.

  • A compensation for moral damage.

  • A compensation for all sort of losses.

“THE CODE FOR SELF-REGULATION IN ADVERTISING PERTIENT EXRACTS” was adopted by “The Advertising Standards Council of India” in November 1985 under the Article 2 (ii)f of its Articles of Association. Further, it was amended in 1995 and 1999.

Check Your Progress

  • Why does advertisement need Code of Ethics?
  • Describe any case under which advertiser has been punished for violating the rules.
  • What do you understand by ‘offensive materials’ in advertisement?
  • What are the consequences of unscrupulous advertisement?