The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has revised its influencer advertising guidelines to place additional responsibility on advertising content of health and finance influencers.
The guidelines were introduced initially in May 2021 with an aim to help consumers identify promotional content and make informed decisions on products or services.
The guidelines have been amended in keeping with the rapidly evolving nature and extensive impact of digital platforms.
ASCI’s guidelines pertain to advertising content, where a brand or product or service is being promoted directly or indirectly, and there is a material connection between the brand and the influencer.
As per the revised guidelines, financial influencers will now be able to offer investment-related advice only after being registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
The new guidelines stated that the financial influencers will have to display their SEBI registration number alongside their name and qualifications, on any relevant social media brand endorsement post.
Similarly, influencers that endorse products that make claims on health and nutrition must hold relevant qualifications such as medical degrees or certification in nursing, nutrition, dietetics, physiotherapy, psychology, etc., depending on the nature of the advice provided. Such qualifications must be disclosed prominently.
For other financial advice, ‘finfluencers’ must possess appropriate credentials such as a license from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), be qualified as a chartered accountant, holds a company secretaryship, etc. Moreover, they are expected to adhere to all disclosure prerequisites as stipulated by financial sector regulators from time to time.
Other revised disclaimars for health and finance influencers are as follows:
Superimposed on the visuals prominently and upfront, or mentioned as the opening remark in videos
For blogs or any text-based posts, they should be stated upfront before the consumer has to read the post
In the case of podcasts or a purely audio medium, they should be called out at the beginning of the advertising content
Manisha Kapoor, CEO and secretary general, ASCI, said, “As losses to consumers could be substantial and serious due to improper advice in the categories of health and finance, it is necessary that influencers in these two critical categories are qualified to provide advice and that these qualifications are stated upfront, whenever they put out such advertising posts. A “one size fits all” approach can be dangerous in these areas and consumers should only follow the advice of qualified experts when engaging with brands or products in these categories.”
She added, “Unlike celebrities whom consumers clearly know the fields they belong to, they may not necessarily know which influencers have the necessary qualification and expertise to provide the right advice and also inform them of any associated risks. To safeguard consumers from the consequences of advice from non-experts, these additional requirements should now be followed by health and financial influencers."