About ISA

The Indian Society of Advertisers has been the peak national body for advertisers for 65+ years and represents the interests of organisations involved in Indian advertising, marketing and media industry. ISA's aim is to promote and safeguard the rights of its members to communicate freely with their customers, and to protect consumers by ensuring advertising and marketing communications are conducted responsibly.

Background And Current Status

The Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) was founded and registered as a company 68 years ago (1952) by a like minded group of large advertisers of those times. The original member companies and their representatives were:

Bata Shoe Company, Calcutta

R. Ray, Publicity Manager

Birla Bros. Ltd., Calcutta

Gangadhar Makheria, Secretary & Chief Accountant

Corn Products Co. (India) Ltd., Bombay

P.H. Brown, Director

Glaxo Laboratories (India) Ltd., Bombay

R. A. Haryott, Director

Parle Products Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Bombay

P. Mohanlal, Director

Polson Ltd., Bombay

Lt. Col. J.D. Kothawala, Director

Tata Industries Ltd., Bombay

F.S. Mulla, Public Relations Officer

West End Watch Co., Bombay

M.R. Bavier, Esq., General Manager

While registered as a company under section 25 of the Companies Act, it is a non-profit organization and is exempt from paying Income Tax under Section 11 of the 1.T. Rules 10 (23).

Over the years nearly all major advertisers have become members of the ISA and its current membership of around 160 is spread throughout the length and breadth of the Country,

Its membership includes almost all the large and prestigious advertisers like Asian Paints, Bata, Britannia, Cadbury, Castrol, Coca-Cola, Colgate-Palmolive, Dabur, Godfrey Phillips, Godrej, Hero Honda, Procter & Gamble, Hindustan Unilever , ITC, Mahindra, Marico, HCL,Reliance ADAG, UB Group, MRF, Nestle, Nirma, Pepsi, P&G, Raymond, Reckitt, SmithKline Beecham, Tata Tea, Tata Motors, Titan and WIPRO, to name just a few. Among large Public Sector Enterprises who are members are companies like Air-India, Bharat Petroleum, Indian Oil and LIC.

Collectively, the membership of The ISA accounts for approximately more then two thirds of the annual advertising expenditures made in India.

Objectives of ISA

  • To promote, maintain and uphold ethical and economic discipline in advertising.
  • To represent, protect, inform and guide advertisers in all matters related to advertising.
  • To help formulate and promote laws, codes and standards of advertising practice.
  • To monitor, measure and moderate the media in terms of cost, competition and viewership/readership/listenership.
  • To encourage and support the development of new media in order to propagate the fundamental right to freedom of information.

Memorandum & Articles of Association

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Upholding Ethical Discipline

The ISA has been at the forefront at promulgating self-regulation for the Advertising Industry. It has played a leadership role in evolving various codes of conduct which address concerns relating to fairness in competition, truthfulness in information, sensitivity and dignity in language, sensitivity and dignity in the depiction of women and children, health wellness, self regulation, environmental protection etc. Some of its achievements in this area are:

It has been the founder promoter of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), which lays down and enforces the code of self-regulation in advertising based on the following basic guidelines:

  • Ensure truthfulness in advertising and safeguard against misleading representations.
  • Ensure advertisements are not offensive to accepted standards of public decency.
  • Safeguard against indiscriminate use of advertising to promote products which are hazardous to society.
  • To ensure the observance of fairness in competition while protecting the consumers right to be informed of choices in the market place.

It has enunciated a code of ethical conduct for advertising in the outdoor medium. This code was put together in collaboration with advertising agencies, the Bombay Municipal Corporation and the outdoor media.

As a member of the WFA has been engaged in the global discussion on use of women and children in advertising.

During 2005 it pro-actively interacted with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to have incorporated in the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 that the violation of the ASCI code will be seen as a violation of the said Act

Promoting Economic Discipline

Government of India has, 3 times in the past (1965, 1978 and 1983) attempted to impose a tax on advertising. ISA has led the crusade and got such laws repealed on each such occasion in the past.

During 2001, the Government imposed a “service tax” on TV ads for all broadcasting channels, who in turn attempted to pass it on to the advertisers. ISA confronted the issue and got broadcasters not to charge service tax over and above contracted rates

During 2004, the ISA escalated the Broadcasting Service Taxation issue to the Finance Ministry, pointing out the cascading effect of this on consumer prices due to the double-taxation effect through CENVAT. The ISA succeeded in persuading the Government to allow the set-off of all Service Tax paid on inputs like advertising, promotion, market research etc. against CENVAT payable on finished goods.

Again the same year of 2004, the ISA, through active interaction with the all India Radio authorities, helped defer an unjustifiable proposal to increase the rates of commercial spots on AIR.

In 2007 ISA strongly opposed and won against the 25% ad hoc rate hike by IBF members

In 2009 ISA along with other related industry associations managed to get the Maharshtra Government retract from levying Stamp Duty on advertising placed in Print, Radio and TV via filing a petition in the Mumbai High Court

Protecting Member's Interests

ISA’s active representation to the regulatory authorities in Delhi helped lift the ban on all outdoor hoardings/bill boards in that metropolis (1998)

ISA’s active intervention resulted in restraining the move by the Advertising Agencies Association of India to oppose the outsourcing of media buying (1999) and regulating the commissions to be paid to Agencies (1996).

ISA rebutted an attempt by some TV channels to commit the advertiser to underwrite terms between the Advertising Agency and the Channel. ISA would steadfastly protect the sanctity of the Principal-to-Principal nature of the Agency/Advertiser relationship.

During 2004 ISA intervened to negate the attempt by Government to allow the airing of only those pharmaceutical product commercials on DD which were specifically approved by the Health Ministry.

ISA restrained a move by the AAAI to mandate pitching fees for speculative presentations by Agencies (2008)

ISA got NBA (News Broadcasters Association) to agree not to put commercial message ticker under TV ad and got Breaking News ticker size under TV ad restricted (2009)

ISA along with AAAI convinced I & B Ministry not to impose frequency change in TAM’s TRP reporting from Weekly to Monthly, as was demanded of TAM by IBF & NBA (2011)

Keeping Media Honest And Competitive

While the measurement of media audiences, reporting of media costs and assessment of media cost effectiveness is critical, it is also important that we collectively ensure that the media at large follows practices which allow honest and unrestricted competition between media suppliers and allows meaningful comparisons of cost in a transparent manner.

ISA has played a determining role in this area and continues to do so:

ISA was instrumental in stopping the practice of a single advertiser booking the entire space in any one media vehicle.

ISA has encouraged and enabled a “single currency” in the measurement of TV audiences and Press readerships to allow comparisons of cost efficiency between vehicles within a medium with a common yardstick.

Monitoring Media Costs and Viewership

One of the major objectives of the ISA is to monitor the cost effectiveness of media in India and keep its members abreast of information in this regard. This helps members to make “hard-data” based assessments of media, to ensure the most cost effective utilization of advertising moneys.

ISA was instrumental in organizing the first National Readership Survey in India and has contributed towards building a methodology that provides robust data for the benefit of all advertisers

ISA took the lead in establishing a Joint Industry Body (JIB) to set up the first continuous TV audience measurement survey with TAM . It has seeded a Technical Committee, which continues to drive improvements in sampling procedures, confidentiality of the sample panels, auditing of reported data and width of coverage.

ISA was responsible for ensuring that such national media research costs are borne primarily by the media. ISA provides a 6 monthly comparison of the print media to its members through its Mille Rate Surveys.

ISA along with IBF and AAAI is founder, promoter and owner of the Broadcast Audience Research Council, India (BARC) which will conduct and own Television Audience Research starting in Mid 2014

ISA in July 2013 ensured that access of weekly reporting of TV TRP data in % terms is continued to the Advertisers and their Agencies after TV broadcasters forced TAM to start reporting TV audience data only in terms of number of viewers and on monthly basis.

Encouraging New Media

ISA has been constantly on the vigil to explore opportunities to enhance and exploit available media as well as to encourage new media for the benefit of advertisers

ISA played a crucial role in working with the Government to allow commercial broadcasting on Radio and Television in days when there were Government controlled/owned mediums.

It continues to provide information to its members through articles in its quarterly publication – NUTSHELL – which keeps them abreast of the developments of new mediums of advertising (e.g. Interactive, Internet, TV etc.).

Self Regulation

ISA is a founder promoter of the ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) Ensures truthfulness in advertising and safeguard against misleading representations and that advertisements are not offensive to accepted standards of public decency.

ASCI Code safeguards against indiscriminate use of advertising to promote products or acts hazardous to society.

ASCI Code ensures the observance of fairness in competition while protecting the consumers right to be informed of choices in the market place.

ISA has enunciated a code of ethical conduct for advertising in the outdoor medium. This code was put together in collaboration with advertising agencies, the Bombay Municipal Corporation and the outdoor media.

As a member of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) is engaged in the global discussion on use of women and children in F & B and Online Behavior Advertising (OBA)

During 2007, pro-actively interacted with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to have incorporated in the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 that the violation of the ASCI code will be seen as a violation of the said Act.