In conversation with Apoorv Bhatnagar, Rohit Golia, Vedika Mehta, and Mohit Hiranandani about the ASCI guidelines

Shachi Lavingia
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ASCI guidelines

ASCI's Influencer Marketing Guidelines have been getting a mixed review and here's what Apoorv Bhatnagar, Rohit Golia, Vedika Mehta and Mohit Hiranandani think about it.

This July, ASCI aka the Advertising Standards Council of India finalized some Influencer Marketing Guidelines, and Social Samosa and Social Ketchup held a round table discussion about the same with some creators and Manisha Kapoor, ASCI Secretary-General. These guidelines were majorly surrounding transparency in content and promotions by brands and influencers and while we had a healthy conversation with Dr. Falguni Vasavada, Creator and Professor & Chair, Strategic Marketing Area at MICA, Rajni Daswani, Director at SoCheers, Aarushi Sethi, Business Head at Pollen, and content creators like Saloni Gaur, Vedika Mehta, and Taneesha Mirwani in the round table discussion, there's also been a lot of debate over these guidelines in the community.

We spoke to Co-Founders of The Plug Media, Apoorv Bhatnagar, and Rohit Golia, as well as content creators and actors, Vedika Mehta and Mohit Hiranandani about the impact of the ASCI guidelines on content, how has the industry evolved ever since, and what their experience has been like after the guidelines are put into place.

Here's what they had to say about the ASCI guidelines!

Do you think the ASCI Guidelines have helped creators in planning better-branded content? 

Apoorv Bhatnagar doesn't think that the guidelines have made much of a difference. "The content planning still remains unchanged, though still, a majority of creators, especially regional creators aren't adhering to it." Rohit Golia, on the other hand, thinks that it has certainly brought transparency and accountability to the entire process. "Given adequate time and effective implementation, it will change the narrative of influencer marketing in the country in a positive manner." For Vedika Mehta, the guidelines haven't helped much with the planning. "But they’ve been fruitful in giving a direction to put out branded content with a clear distinction." Mohit Hiranandani believes that these guidelines have helped for sure. "My team and I are even more cautious about the brands we work with so that I don’t end up misleading my followers."

Has putting a paid or a collab tag impacted the performance of the association? 

Apoorv thinks that the audience has become more aware and smarter in the last 2 years. "Putting a #collab #paid has just made it more 'out there', in my opinion." For Rohit, these tags haven't impacted the association that significantly. "Even though there may be slight repercussions because of the guidelines, it has overall resulted in the audience having more trust in the creators and their content." Vedika believes that it resulted in awareness for the audience that’s following her. "It helps to be transparent with them and produce real content." It’s obviously much safer to add the paid partnership tag but as far as the content and the reaction of the audience is concerned, it totally depends on the content, for Mohit. "If it’s a good advertisement I get more traction than I expected."

What do you see as a future trend in branded content?

Ed-tech and finance brands are definitely rising. FMCG, lifestyle, cosmetic brands, and others are now taking a sustainable and eco-friendly route according to Apoorv. "I definitely see that change coming in. More than everything, brands are going to support missions than promoting products." With the ASCI guidelines in place, Rohit thinks we can be sure to see less misleading and more informed content in the future. "Bringing structure and regulation to the system will only strengthen it." For Vedika, there isn’t really much of a difference. "The process of content creation still remains the same." Mohit thinks it's safer because it helps in making the audience a lot more aware.

What should a creator keep in mind while creating branded content under the ASCI Guidelines?

The sole purpose of ASCI guidelines is to maintain and promote transparency of branded and non-branded content. In Apoorv's opinion, it shouldn't affect the way a creator strategizes the content, until and unless they disclose the association with that brand. Rohit mentions, "Simply put, the creator needs to essentially be honest to their audience. They need to present their content in its truest form."

What changes have you seen in brand briefs after the guidelines were implemented?

Apoorv says, "Brands have now become more alert about disclosure of paid associations with creators and of course equally vouch for being transparent with the audience." While Rohit is of the opinion that we’ve definitely seen less of "make it look organic" requests from the brands. "There’s no need for disguised messaging anymore." Vedika believes in creating quality content whether it’s branded or organic. "Good lighting, camera quality, good outfits is something I always keep in mind." What’s most important to Mohit is that we don’t take up brands that one doesn't personally believe in themselves. "I’ve to be 100% willing to use that product that I’m asking people to buy. Using hashtags like #ad are the changes I've seen in briefs."

We asked Vedika and Mohit whether they feel that they have to put more effort into creating branded content than earlier to make it engaging enough. And here's what they had to say!

Vedika mentions, "Yes of course, but that has more to do with keeping up with your profile, getting better with every post, maintaining that quality of content." For Mohit, his team puts in all the effort. "It would be a lie if I said that I’ve been putting in a lot of effort. But, it's always teamwork that results in fabulous content."

What are your thoughts about the ASCI guidelines? Tell us in the comments below!

Also Read: Here is what Creators think about the new ASCI Influencer Marketing Guidelines

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Social media Social media influencers Mohit Hiranandani Vedika Mehta ASCI ASCI influencer Marketing Guidelines Apoorv Bhatnagar Rohit Golia