Sunday, November 01, 2009

IIM-A's claim on 'the brightest minds'

A PTI report that appears in newspapers today (2nd Nov.) quotes a press release by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad as saying, inter alia, :"The brightest minds of this country would once again be vying for internships at firms from all over the world". This refers to summer placement of IIMA students.
Is IIMA complying with generally acceptedv marketing principles in making this claim? Notice the hubris in claiming monopoly over the brightest minds. The release does not say "Some of the brightest minds---"
If an FMCG or a consumer durable company makes a similar claim regarding its product, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) would come down heavily on the company. (ASCI is a self-regulatory body of advertisers and ad agencies.)
For example, in JK Tyres vs MRF, ASCI acted against MRF for claiming in its advertisements, "Always the favourite choice of Indian truckers" and "Standard and quality unmatched in the world". ASCI has hauled up many companies including HUL, Brittania, Pepsico India and Eureka Forbes for making "unsubstantiated claims".
Such claims fall foul of chapter I.1 of The Code for Self-Regulation in Advertising of ASCI ( The relevant para reads as follows:
"Ads must be truthful. All descriptions , claims and comparisons which relate to matters of objectively ascertainable fact should be capable of substantiation. Advertisers are required to produce such substantiation as and when called upon to do so by ASCI."
If brightness of mind is not an objectively ascertainable fact, the claim must not have been made in the first place. If it is ascertainable, IIMA must produce a substantiation independent of CAT score.
However, IIMA may take refuge under para I.6 of the Code which permits an exemption. It says,"Obvious untruths or exaggerations intended to amuse or to catch the eye of the consumer are permissible provided that they are clearly to be seen as humorous or hyperbolic and not likely to be understood as making literal or misleading claims for the advertised product."
The PTI report also states that incidentally the IIMA has recently featured in the top 100 ranking of the world renowned magazine Economist, a survey conducted across major business schools including Harvard, INSEAD, London Business School and Stern. What is not mentioned is IIMA is ranked 99th.

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