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‘ASCI will ensure that its guidelines keep pace with the ever-evolving society’

Advertisements that mock people on the basis of gender identity, body shape or mental ailments will now be considered a violation of the advertising code prescribed by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). This comes after the self-regulatory industry body decided to update its advertising code to address some of these emerging issues.

ASCI’s code has provisions that state that advertising depictions cannot deride on the basis of race, caste, creed, gender or nationality. However, the board of ASCI recently approved changes in the code, to ensure that new areas of possible discrimination or derision are also addressed to add greater inclusivity in advertising depictions. 

The revised clause states: “No advertisement shall be permitted which derides any individual or groups on the basis of race, caste, colour, religion, gender, body shape, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental conditions or nationality.”

Manisha Kapoor, CEO & Secretary General, ASCI, said: “We have seen consumers call out ads that mock or deride people, or portray them in unfavourable ways. And it is only right that advertising becomes more inclusive and sensitive to this. It is not acceptable, for example, to associate characteristics such as sluggishness with a certain body shape. Similarly, to deride someone with a physical or mental ailment or their gender identity, would now violate the ASCI code.”

Kapoor said that as a “future-facing” organisation, ASCI will ensure that its guidelines keep pace with the ever-evolving society. “As consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about unfavourable depictions of certain sections of society, this change ensures that advertising, too, keeps pace with these rightful expectations,” she added.

Published on May 25, 2022