Many in India were surprised when the former James Bond fame Pierce Brosnan appeared in an advertisement endorsing a pan masala product, a highly addictive and dangerous form of chewing tobacco which can lead to cancer.
The advertisement has been the talk of the town since it first appeared on the front page of a national newspaper. The commercial appeared in major TV channels as well. following the release of the advertisement, social media had a field day trolling the ad. Instead of his iconic gun, as in James Bond movies, Brosnan can be seen holding Pan Bahar and he proceeds to take down an entire cartel, pausing once every so often to kiss the jar in his hand. The one-minute long advertisement has got all the ingredients of a slick movie, a high society party, a female spy, hired thugs and a matching classy villain for the hero!
Watch the Pan Bahar ad featuring former James bond Pierce Brosnan:
Pan Bahar is a pan masala brand which contains lime, clove, crushed betel nut and tobacco with some other ingredients. Millions of Indians consume it and many of them are addicted to it.
Continuous use of gutka and pan masala could cause serious illness like mouth cancer and tumors and both are described as the scourge of the South Asian subcontinent. Many Indian states have run a series of campaigns designed to discourage people from consuming these products.
Three years back, the famous Howrah Bridge in West Bengal had to be encased in fiberglass casings to prevent damage caused by gutkha-laced sputum. Pillars of the 70-year-old bridge became eroded massively threatening the iconic steel structure’s longevity.
Brosnan endorsing a product like Pan Bahar has resulted in a mix of emotions ranging from anger to disappointment in the country.
The association of an iconic face associated with 007 for more than a decade features in an ad for Pan Bahar caused an uproar over social media. Some people called it as the proof of India’s global reach and some related it to the notorious spitting habit.
BBC reports that the producers of the Pan Bahar, Ashok and Co responded to the public outrage saying that it’s the result of “public misconception”.
“We are the oldest brand of mouth freshener in India and we don’t produce either gutka or pan masala. But after the 1990s when gutka flooded the market, all mouth freshener products also got a bad name,” a spokesman for the company responded to BBC.
“We are trying to change that perception and this is a first step, ” he added.
The spokesman also said that the company had thought Brosnan was “perfect” to endorse their product because he was “suave, cool and a master-blender” – all qualities they want people to associate with Pan Bahar.
However, the reactions indicate that they have an uphill task ahead of them.