[Answered] How do the new guidelines to curb misleading advertisements aim to protect children from misleading ads? What are the other issues it aims to tackle?

Introduction: contextual introduction.
Body: Write in brief How the new guidelines are helpful in protecting children from misleading ads. Also explain other concerning areas that it aims to tackle.
Conclusion: Write way forward.

The Union Government has released the ‘Guidelines on Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022’. Its main objective is to regulate advertisements and protect consumers from misleading advertisements. It is formed by keeping in view the sensitiveness and vulnerability of advertisements in the Children’s minds.

How it is helpful in protecting children from misleading ads?

  • Advertisements that are targeting children and under any law require a health warning or cannot be purchased by children, shall not feature any personalities from the field of sports, music, or cinema.
  • It prohibits the advertisements of such products or services that claim any health or nutritional benefits without being scientifically recognized by an authentic body.
  • Any advertisement that offers promotional gifts to persuade children to buy goods, products or services without necessity or promotes illogical consumerism, shall be discouraged.
  • The regulations specify that commercials involving child-related items must not promote a poor body image in children. Also, it should not give the sense that the product is superior to the natural or traditional meals that the child may be eating.

There are the following issues that are also addressed by this law:

  • More transparency: It aims to protect consumers’ interests by ensuring clarity in published advertisements, so that, consumers could make informed decisions based on facts rather than wrong narratives and exaggerations.
  • Prohibits Surrogate Advertising: It bans surrogate advertising, a practice where a seller promotes a product whose advertisement is not allowed by disguising it as another product. E.g., Liquor ads under the guise of selling soda, CDs, and even holiday packages.
  • Free claims advertisements: A free claims advertisement shall not describe any goods, products, or service to be ‘free’, ‘without charge’, or use such other terms if the consumer has to pay anything.
  • Bait Advertisements: The guidelines lay down conditions to be complied with while issuing bait advertisements. Bait advertisement means an advertisement in which goods, products, or service is offered for sale at a low price to attract consumers.
  • The guidelines bar Indian citizens living abroad from endorsing such advertisements that have been barred for Indian professionals living in the country.

Advertising is an important paradigm for consumer protection. The Consumer Protection Act has a provision to handle misleading advertisements. But to make it clearer to the advertising industry, the recent guidelines are very trivial in fair advertising.

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