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Responsible Advertising

Manisha Kapoor, is currently the Secretary General of The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). A multi-faceted professional, she has been a brand marketer and a consultant.

Manisha has helped companies establish and nurture brands through brand building, new product development, marketing and media strategy development. She has helped businesses grow and differentiate through integration of social development goals into business and brand strategy. In her current role, she aims to help educate organisation and all stakeholders about responsible Advertising.

What is Responsible Advertising?

Manisha talks about responsible advertising so as the consumers are not misled. While organisations may consider ASCI as a watch-dog, it is keen to kick-start the initiative for organisations to get educated about ASCI guidelines and achieve compliance. ASCI as a self-regulatory, helps set the boundaries and define the responsibilities of advertisers. Sustainable change is a synergistic process and ASCI works with multiple stakeholders, ranging from private organisations, industry bodies, government agencies and consumer groups, while keeping consumer interest at the center.

Ethical advertising evens the playing field for the consumer by giving them the information they need to make an informed decision on what products to buy and how these products will enhance their lives–whether they need the product or they just want that product.
(Source – https://thegossagency.com/2015/12/13/why-its-important-to-have-ethics-in-advertising-especially-to-reach-millennials-2/)

Challenges faced by ASCI

Manisha elaborates, that while the ASCI was established in 1985, the current purview of coverage extends beyond the traditional legislation of Cable Television into newer channels such as social media advertising. Over the past few decades, ASCI has established a robust mechanism for handling complaints against objectionable advertising content. This has gained recognition from the industry as well as the government. With the advent of new advertising platforms, ASCI needs to be alert, nimble and agile to be in step with advertisers adopting new technologies.

Source: Twitter


Manisha is responsible for leading the change across all level at ASCI. She sees an opportunity to provide thought-leadership in educating advertisers via independent study. This was the genesis for the GenderNext study along with UN Women. This study has opened the doors for open conversation as it offers actionable insights in the representation of women in advertising. This study can help push the narrative to be more progressive and acceptable as women themselves have moved a few steps ahead in their representation at home and at work.

Deep-dive into the study by Futurebrands

As part of the study, a category-agnostic ‘SEA (Self-esteemed-Empowered-Allied) framework’ has been proposed that aims to guide stakeholders in imagining as well as evaluating portrayals of women in their advertising.

The three key measures are (1) Self-esteemed – how the woman feels about herself, (2) Empowered – how the woman relates to the situation she is cast in and (3) Allied- how others partner her in progress.

In addition, the study also proposes a 3S screener for scripts/storyboards, casting, styling to identify stereotype red flags. Shares Kapoor: “The screener looks at aspects of a) Subordination (where the woman is placed lower in the hierarchy of decision making, awareness) b) Service (where the woman is seen at the service of others) and c) Standardisation (where the woman is moulded into portrayals that blur individuality). [Source https://www.thedrum.com/news/2021/09/24/asci-launches-advertising-advice-service-encourage-more-responsible-advertising%5D

source: https://www.mediainfoline.com/advertising/asci-futurebrands-unveil-the-gendernext-report-on-depiction-of-women-in-advertising

Building an army of vigilant parents

Manisha says she wants to work with everyone in the society where all of them could be contributors to ASCI’s objective. This could be an “army” of vigilant parents helping ASCI in their cause as they take up the cause of mis-representation of advertising from food as well as education industries targeted to children and parents.

The session

Manisha does a thirty minute conversation with Deepa, talking about her role in ASCI and as to how ASCI has made the pivot to leading the change with research and independent study versus being just a watchful police force.

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