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Unproven anti-coronavirus claims under Ad body’s lens

Various product categories such as mattresses, disinfectants, sanitzers and foods have begun making unscientific claims in their advertising of being ‘anti-coronavirus’, which industry body Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) said it is clamping down on.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Mar 17, 2020, 06.47 AM IST
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NEW DELHI: As the war against coronavirus intensifies, various product categories such as mattresses, disinfectants, sanitzers and foods have begun making unscientific claims in their advertising of being ‘anti-coronavirus’, which industry body Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) said it is clamping down on.

“ASCI is looking into all complaints being flagged to us by consumers pertaining to potentially misleading claims. In exceptional circumstances, when it appears that an advertisement is in serious breach of the ASCI Code and has the effect of causing public harm, then the ASCI would direct the advertiser to suspend the ad,” ASCI secretary general Shweta Purandare said.

While a local manufacturer Arihant Mattress is advertising 'anti-coronavirus' mattresses, yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved is selling its Giloy as being an effective cure against the virus.

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Purandare said in case of the “anti-coronavirus” mattress, ASCI has reached out to the advertiser which has agreed to withdraw claims. The ad claims that “an India which sleeps on anti-coronavirus mattress will move forward”.

There has various ‘virus resistant’ foods on store shelves, too, claiming to fight off the deadly virus. “It is not possible for the claims to be checked at store level.. so, we are stocking these amidst heightened consumer demand for the same,” said an official at Gurgano-based retail chain.

Social commentator Harish Bijoor said: “Advertising claims capitalising on jittery consumers’ fears should be called out by the concerned authorities; this is against consumer interests.”

The WHO has already warned countries about shortage of products known to contain or fight off the deadly virus triggered by panic buying and hoarding. WHO has urged industries and governments to step up manufacturing of scientifically proved products by 40%.

Amidst shortage of bigger brands such as Reckitt Benckiser's Dettol, Lifebuoy by Hindustan Unilever and ITC’s Savlon, smaller hand sanitiser and disinfectant brands have flooded retail shelves.

Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, originated in Wuhan, China, and has spread to more than 100 countries across the world.
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