Indian Advertising Council Drafts Rules For Influencer Marketing on Social Media


Feb 23, 2021


The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has drafted a set of guidelines for influencer-advertising on social media. Presently open for feedback from stakeholders, the guidelines aim to protect consumer interest by enabling easy recognition of promotional content online.

“The biggest part of the new rules is to tell consumers that you are watching an ad and not content. That disclosure has to be in a prominent position,” Manisha Kapoor, secretary-general of the ASCI, told LiveMint.

The nature of such labeling required has also been laid out for different formats of promotional content such as audio recordings, video clips, or just images — but in each case, the disclosure must be visible across devices, applications, and platforms.

In the bid to ensure that claims made through such content are truthful, honest, and not exaggerated, the guidelines aim to regulate the usage of filters as well. “In case of a shampoo ad, the influencer should not use a filter to make the hair look shinier,” Subhash Kamath, chairman of the ASCI, told LiveMint. Another example cited in the guidelines was the usage of teeth-whitening filters for a product aiming to help people achieve whiter teeth.

Moreover, the guidelines also direct influencers to do their due diligence about technical or performance claims regarding products they are advertising, by confirming with brand owners that the claims are indeed capable of scientific substantiation.

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Research suggests that 40% of teenagers believe online creators ‘get them‘ better than their real-life friends, and 70% of them tend to trust influencers’ opinions more than traditional celebrities. Additionally, more than 85% of women turn to social media before making purchases, and more than half of them admitted to choosing what to buy based on posts by influencers on social media. In fact, research also shows that more than 80% of the most-viewed beauty videos on YouTube were made by influencers, and only over 10% by beauty brands — suggesting that online content is becoming the best route for brands to influence people’s purchase decisions.

In the past, our over-reliance on influential voices has led to a lot of accounts becoming key distributors of misinformation during the early stage of the pandemic. It has also led to random, non-trained influencers offering therapy and advice on mental health issues online to their followers amid the global mental health crisis, which followed the pandemic.

At this juncture, the ASCI’s decision to regulate influencer-advertising can inform consumer decisions better — by helping users understand that there’s a commercial aspect involved behind their favorite influencers’ opinions in certain pieces of content.

Until March 8, stakeholders can send their inputs to hilda@ascionline.org. Subsequently, ASCI intends to publish the final guidelines on March 31, which will come into effect in mid-April this year.


Written By Devrupa Rakshit

Devrupa Rakshit is an Associate Editor at The Swaddle. She is a lawyer by education, a poet by accident, a painter by shaukh, and autistic by birth. You can find her on Instagram @devruparakshit.


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