ASCI updates its code to achieve greater inclusivity


May 26, 2022

ASCI updates its code to achieve greater inclusivity

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has recently published its updated code wherein ASCI has endeavoured to achieve a greater level of inclusivity in depictions contained in advertisements. While the ASCI Code already contained provisions pertaining to the bar on advertisements to not disparage anyone on the basis of race, caste, creed, gender or nationality, due to the advent of our collective understanding of discrimination on other factors and the effects that can ensue from such discriminatory representation, ASCI has further decided to include the following factors that shall be barred from being used in a derogatory manner in any advertisement:

  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Body shape
  • Age
  • Physical and mental conditions

The factors have been added to Chapter 3 of the ASCI Code which pertains to advertisements that cause harm, reading as follows:

3.1 No advertisement shall be permitted which:

b) Derides any individual or groups on the basis of race, caste, color, religion, gender, body shape, age, sexual orientation gender identity, physical or mental conditions or nationality.

As a body that regulates the domain of advertisements, it is essential that they keep up with the necessary societal and cultural changes and the way advertisements work in order to ensure that the same can be as equitable and fair as possible. While commenting upon the changes, Ms Manisha Kapoor, the CEO and Secretary-General of ASCI said, ‘We have seen consumers call out ads that mock or deride people, or portray the, in unfavourable ways. And it is only right that advertising becomes more inclusive and sensitive to this. It is not acceptable for example, to associate characteristics such as sluggishness with a certain body shape. Similarly, to deride someone with a physical or mental ailment, or their gender identity would now violate the ASCI Code. With this change, ASCI hopes to ensure that advertising becomes more inclusive and sensitised to all sections of our country, and does not perpetuate certain portrayals that have no place in a progressive society.’

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