People who had complained to Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) against Asian Paints Damp Proof Advertisement at this youtube link have received final confirmation email from ASCI that their complaint has been upheld.
While there is good likelihood that the advertisement will be modified or removed, but one should also read the fine print which says that the role of ASCI in the matter is of persuasion to advertisers, and it is not mandatory that the advertiser has to follow the advice given by ASCI. Basically, ASCI is a self-regulatory body and not a governmental organisation.
Need for public disclosure about the advertisement and the problems in it: The advertisement is available on YouTube and is meant for public view. The complaint against the advertisement is also about issues which should interest the public and not about only one person. Hence there should be no problem if the details about the complaint, and the response and conclusion of ASCI are also made public. After all, the advertisement in question has achieved more than 30 lakh plus views already on YouTube, and we are trying to debate issues which also concern the public.
Complaint against Asian Paints Damp Proof
Here is text of one of the complaints which describes the main problems with the advertisement:
Brand: Asian Paints Damp Proof
Description of advt:
Asian Paints Damp Proof advt where a kind of competition is shown between two neighbours trying to water proof their roofs. The 'smart' neighbour is shown using Asian paints product, whereas the 'buffoon' husband is shown using some generic chemical waterproofing product. The problem is in the domestic violence - both physical and verbal which is inflicted on husband by wife, just in trying to make a point about asian paints product.
Complaint about advt:
This advt has the following problems:
- Promotes and normalized domestic violence against men (husband/father in this case).
- How it normalizes domestic violence against men is that it is done in front of neighbour who is watching the two. Also, the wife has kid in arms, and though the kid is too small still it shows the ad maker thought it wise to show kid crying while mother is angry and slapping the father! Talk about being obnoxious and in bad taste at the same time!
- Any advt of similar nature where a husband slaps his wife (leave alone in front of a child) and add to that neighbour watching will never be approved and will raise an outcry in society. The reverse cannot be allowed by same logic. It is not that the effect can be modified or reduced a bit, the whole advt deserves to be shelved and taken off the air. Both the creator of advt and Asian Paints should issue an apology to public.
- The dialogues are also promoting domestic abuse of men. E.g. the wife threatens husband that he will have to sleep on the roof if it is not water proofed properly.
Advt found via: Twitter/Youtube
URL/Website link of advt:
Complaint upheld by ASCI – their reply and conclusion
The email text below gives the details of both reply from Asian Paints (Advertiser) to the complaint, and assessment and conclusion of Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI which upheld the complaint.
Do read further analysis which is given after the email text below.
Text of email below:
Re: CCC Recommendation–2004-C.7(28) – Your complaint against the advertisement of “Asian Paints Ltd. - Asian Paints Damp Proof"
The complaint was considered by the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) at their meeting.
The ASCI had approached the advertiser for their response in addressing the grievances of the complainants and forwarded the details of the complaints, verbatim, to the advertiser with a request to respond to the same. The advertiser was offered an opportunity for personal meeting/telecon with the ASCI Secretariat and were also provided an option for “Informal Resolution” (IR) of the complaint by deleting the objected visuals in the advertisement. However, the advertiser did not opt for an IR and submitted their written response.
The advertiser in their response submitted that a humorous tone was adopted in their advertisement to communicate their brand / product benefits. At the beginning of the advertisement, the woman has served tea to her husband and is happily smiling when her husband responds to his neighbour that he is undertaking chemical water proofing. Further, the advertisement showcases the husband and wife going through their life journey while continually facing a problem of seepage. As in a natural relationship, she seeks her husband’s attention by turning his face towards her while he is speaking to their neighbour. Once she has expressed her concern to him, she turns his face back towards their neighbour for him to continue their conversation, one which she had originally interrupted. To the advertiser, this was a normal interaction devoid of any violence / mal intent between the couple and not at all a slap as alleged by the complainants. At the end of the advertisement, it is seen that when the husband applies Asian Paints – Damp Proof both husband and wife happily dance together in the rain.
The CCC viewed the YouTube advertisement (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxesJcgwXPY) and considered the complainant’s concerns as well as the advertiser’s response. The CCC noted that the advertisement depicts two neighbours carrying out waterproofing repairs of their respective terrace, the protagonist who uses chemical waterproofing and the neighbour who uses the advertiser’s product. The advertisement depicts the problems faced by the person who used chemical waterproofing for the terrace. Because of the persistent leakage, the protagonist’s wife is unhappy about the situation and angrily gives him an ultimatum that if the leakage persists, he will have to sleep on the terrace.
The CCC did not agree with the advertiser’s contention that the situation was depicted in a humorous manner. The CCC further observed that the woman’s face in the advertisement portrays anger, grimacing and is not light-hearted as asserted by the advertiser. The wife’s action results in the baby getting scared and starts to cry as well. The CCC did not agree with the advertiser's submission that the wife’s act was meant to catch the attention of the husband. It depicted a much more serious tone that not only was demeaning and disrespectful in nature but also resembles the act of slapping thus normalizing violence. The CCC agreed with the complainant’s feedback that if a similar situation was depicted by reversing the gender, the advertisement would have been considered to be in contravention of Chapter II of the ASCI code. In the context of the advertised product, the objected visuals could have been easily avoided.
Based on this assessment, the CCC concluded that the TVC and the YouTube advertisement contravened Chapter III of the ASCI code. The Complaint was UPHELD.
We have advised the advertiser to suitably modify or withdraw the said advertisement by May 27, 2020. If you continue to see the advertisement with the objected visuals being published beyond the due date, kindly bring this to our attention.
You may note that while ASCI believes in persuasion to ensure compliance by advertiser, in case of continued non-compliance, alternate remedies are also available to complainants to approach other appropriate forums such as State Consumer Forum or National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC).
Thank you for having referred this complaint to us.
Assuring you of our services in the pursuit of Self-Regulation in Advertising.
Analysis of ASCI Code and guidelines
The text above is quite detailed and self-explanatory. Further to that, let us try to go deeper to understand for future as to what specific violations of ASCI guidelines were deemed to be violated by above advertisement – specifically Chapter II and Chapter III of the ASCI Code (PDF Download).
Chapter II of ASCI Code - Non-Offensive to Public
The Chapter II of ASCI Code contains all but one para, which is given below (text format is not available):
I think the act of slapping husband/father in front of a child who starts crying upon seeing it, while a neighbour is also watching – can very well fit into category of being offensive to generally accepted standards of public decency.
Further, the CCC has upheld the logic given that if an advertisement showed similar physical violence against a woman, it will raise an outcry.
Chapter III of ASCI Code – Against Harmful Products/Situations
Chapter III of the ASCI Code has many more paras, but in my analysis the most relevant points into which the violations done by Asian Paints advertisement can fit is the first para itself 3.1 (a):
3.1 No advertisement shall be permitted which:
(a) Tends to incite people to crime or to promote disorder and violence or intolerance.
The act of slapping husband/father shows both violence and intolerance in the advertisement – and doing these in front of a child and also a neighbour can very well be deemed to be something which is promoting such behaviours, too.
One can download and study the ASCI Code in detail to understand what kind of advertising guidelines and conduct should be followed by advertisers when they create advertisements.