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ASCI’s New Guidelines for Health and Financial Influencers

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In the ever-evolving landscape of digital advertising, it is essential to protect consumers from potentially harmful misinformation, especially in critical areas such as health and finance. Recognizing this need, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has recently made significant revisions to its influencer advertising guidelines. These ASCI’s New Guidelines aim to place additional responsibility on influencers who promote products or services in the health and finance sectors, ensuring transparency and accountability for the benefit of consumers.

The Evolution of ASCI’s Guidelines

ASCI initially introduced its influencer advertising guidelines in May 2021 with a mission to empower consumers to identify promotional content and make informed decisions regarding products or services. These guidelines have been updated to reflect the rapidly changing landscape of digital platforms and the extensive impact they have on consumer choices.

The Scope of ASCI’s Guidelines

ASCI’s guidelines specifically address advertising content where a brand, product, or service is being promoted directly or indirectly, and there is a material connection between the brand and the influencer. The recent revisions expand upon the responsibilities of influencers in the health and finance sectors.

Financial Influencers and SEBI Registration

One notable change is in the realm of financial influencers. To offer investment-related advice, these influencers must now be registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). In addition to this registration, they are required to prominently display their SEBI registration number alongside their name and qualifications on any relevant social media brand endorsement post.

Health and Nutrition Influencers’ Qualifications

For influencers endorsing products making claims related to health and nutrition, qualifications are paramount. These influencers must hold relevant certifications or degrees in fields such as medicine, nursing, nutrition, dietetics, physiotherapy, psychology, or other applicable domains depending on the nature of the advice provided. These qualifications must be disclosed prominently in their content.

Financial Advice and Credentials for “Finfluencers”

Financial influencers, often referred to as “finfluencers,” must possess appropriate credentials, such as a license from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) or qualifications as a chartered accountant or company secretary. Additionally, they are expected to adhere to all disclosure prerequisites set forth by financial sector regulators.

Disclaimer requirements for health and finance influencers

According to ASCI’s press note:

The influencer must disclose their qualifications and registration/certification details prominently in all types of promotional material:

  • 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.

ASCI’s Commitment to Consumer Protection

Manisha Kapoor, CEO and Secretary General, ASCI, stated: “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. 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”.

Also Read: How China is Mastering Influencer Marketing

Let’s wrap up: Updated ASCI’s guidelines

In conclusion, ASCI’s updated influencer advertising guidelines represent a significant step forward in ensuring transparency and accountability in the promotion of health and finance products and services. By requiring influencers to have appropriate qualifications and prominently disclose them, consumers can make more informed decisions, ultimately benefiting their well-being and financial security.

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