The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) was established in 1985. It ensures Self-Regulation in Advertising thus protecting the interests of consumers. ASCI was formed with the support of all four sectors connected with Advertising — Advertisers, Advertising Agencies, Media (including Broadcasters and the Press) and others like PR Agencies and Market Research Companies.

The Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) is ASCI’s main body and it has given tremendous impetus to ASCI’s work and self-regulation in advertising.

Guidelines for Disclaimers made in supporting, limiting or explaining claims made in advertisements:

Chapter I (4) of the ASCI code states that “Advertisements shall neither distort facts nor mislead the consumer by means of implications or omissions.” Therefore, it is important that certain claims be appropriately explained to ensure that consumers with average intelligence are not misled, nor deceived by means of implications or omissions. These guidelines are meant to help Advertisers, Agencies and the Media to better understand the rules in the ASCI Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising in so far as they relate to disclaimers used in Advertising.

Important facets of the disclaimer guidelines which remain unchanged are:

  1. A Disclaimer can expand or clarify a claim, make qualifications, or resolve ambiguities, to explain the claim in further detail. But, it should not contradict/modify the material claim made nor contradict the main message conveyed by the advertiser or change the dictionary meaning of the words used in the claim as received or perceived by a consumer.
  2. A disclaimer should not attempt to suppress material information with respect to the claim, the omission / absence of which is likely to make the advertisement deceptive or conceal its commercial intent.
  3. A disclaimer should not attempt to correct a misleading claim made in an Advertisement.
  4. A disclaimer shall be in the same language as that of the claim/s of the Advertisement. In case of bilingual advertisements, the disclaimer should be in the dominant language of the advertisement.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) updated “Guidelines for Disclaimers made in supporting, limiting or explaining claims made in advertisements”. The ASCI code mandates that appropriate disclaimers be used to explain and support claims which are made in advertisements. This is to ensure that consumers can read all the information that is presented.

The ASCI carried out a survey recently with 130 customers and observed the following:

  1. 80% of respondents did not notice the disclaimer.
  2. 33% could not understand the disclaimers clearly even after adequate exposure time had been provided.
  3. 62% of respondents felt that the disclaimer was excessively long.

The Consumer Complaints Council has observed that the advertisements sometimes contain disclaimers which are very crowded and distract the focus of viewers. Further, ASCI has processed over 800 advertisements in the past three years which were in violation of the disclaimer guidelines.

For addressing these issues, the Guidelines for Disclaimers s have been amended by ASCI after consultation with stakeholders. The key additions are as follows:

  1. The use of disclaimer should be kept to a minimum. Long or otherwise complex disclaimers with large blocks of text and difficult words are a deterrent to viewers attempting to read the contents of the disclaimer. In such cases advertisers should modify the headline claim to reduce the need for further qualification through disclaimers.
  2. In television commercials or any other video advertisement on digital media, all disclaimers should be clearly readable to consumers. In a single frame in an advertisement:
  • There should not be more than one disclaimer.
  • The disclaimer should be restricted to two full length lines and remain on screen for more than 4 seconds for every line.
  1. For regulatory requirements where the disclaimer exceeds two lines additional hold duration should be accounted for. For the purposes of calculating the ‘Press Release’ duration of hold of disclaimers, all forms of text appearing on screen at any one point in time should be counted. This includes both disclaimer text and any text content in the main ad creative regardless of where on screen it appears and whether or not it is repeated in audio.


The ASCI propagates a sense of responsibility among advertisers, advertising agencies and the media. It encourages the viewers to complain when they are unhappy about some advertisements with a view to offer prompt and objective consideration by an impartial committee- Consumer Complaints Council. Thus, ASCI aims to ensure compliance through power of public opinion.