Pierce Brosnan prompts criticism for starring in 'pan masala' advert

'Do you think he knows what it is?'

Maya Oppenheim
Sunday 09 October 2016 12:08
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Ashok & co, the company which produces Pan Bahar informed the BBC they did not produce either gutka or pan masala and the public anger was due to 'public misconception'
Ashok & co, the company which produces Pan Bahar informed the BBC they did not produce either gutka or pan masala and the public anger was due to 'public misconception'

Pierce Brosnan has drawn criticism for appearing as the new face of Pan Bahar, an Indian brand of "paan masala" and a product which some associate with a highly addictive and potentially dangerous form of chewing tobacco.

In the minute-long advert, the 63-year-old former James Bond actor can be seen using a tin of Pan Bahar mouth freshener as a 007-style weapon and be heard saying “class never goes out of style”.

Many link Pan Bahar with pan masala and gutka, a strong mixture of tobacco, crushed betel nut, clove, lime and other ingredients. It is chewed by millions of South Asians who can become addicted to its mildly psychotropic effects.

It has been linked to serious illnesses such as mouth cancer and tumours. This has, in turn, caused a number of Indian states to outlaw the sale of the products and launch campaigns working to stop people from purchasing them.

Fans have expressed their dismay at his appearance in the advert. “Can advertising and brand experts tell us if going viral but becoming a laughing stock is good brand strategy? #PanBahar,” wrote one Twitter user.

“When James Bond starts selling pan, you know the empire really has struck back,” said another.

Nevertheless, Ashok & co, the company which produces Pan Bahar informed the BBC they did not produce either gutka or pan masala and the public anger was due to “public misconception”.

“We are the oldest brand of mouth freshener in India and we don't produce either gutka or pan masala,” the spokesperson said. “But after the 1990s when gutka flooded the market, all mouth freshener products also got a bad name,” a spokesman for the company said.

“We are trying to change that perception and this is a first step.”

The Independent contacted a representative for Brosnan for comment.

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