Brosnan shaken and stirred by the Pan Bahar ad

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on January 16, 2018

Pierce Brosnan

Embittered actor says pan masala company violated terms of his contract

Pierce Brosnan’s association with Pan Bahar is leaving the former James Bond hero with a bad taste in his mouth.

International media reports say Brosnan has hit out at Ashok & Co Pan Bahar Ltd, makers of Pan Bahar, for “unauthorised and deceptive use” of his image to promote its range of pan masala products.

Calling it a violation of his contract, Brosnan said his agreement with the brand was to endorse a single product, a “breath freshner/tooth whitener”, and that did not contain supari or tobacco. He has now asked the company to rectify this violation of contract.

Earlier this month, the nation woke up to an advertisement campaign by Pan Bahar featuring Brosnan. It triggered widespread outrage, and on October 8, the company clarified that Brosnan had done a short film for a Pan Masala or Indian mouth freshener, which contains betel nut, lime, and cardamom seeds among other ingredients, and that there is no tobacco and no nicotine content in the product. When contacted, Akhil Jain, CEO, Ashok & Co Pan Bahar, told BusinessLine, “All I can say at this stage is that we are in touch with Brosnan’s team and conversations are going on to clarify this confusion.” Asked if he was shocked by Brosnan’s comment, he refused to comment any further.

Celebrity managers and brand experts believe that such a controversy could have long-term implications for the Indian brand endorsement landscape.

Indranil Das Blah, Founding Partner and COO of Kwan Entertainment and Marketing Solutions, said this controversy may make international celebrities more cautious about endorsement deals with Indian brands in the future.

“It is not clear yet whether this is a case of miscommunication or a lack of understanding of the Indian mouth freshner or pan masala segment compared to the western concept of mouth freshner,” he said, adding that the brand may have failed to accurately communicate the positioning of the brand.

Meanwhile, brand consultant Harish Bijoor believes that the onus still lies on the brand ambassador. “Celebrities need to have full knowledge about the products that they are endorsing. They need to be careful before lending their names to brands that may be allowed to be marketed but not advertised. They also need to be aware of the local reality and cultural nuances,” he added.

Products such as pan masalas may be allowed to advertise, but a product that mandatorily needs to carry a health warning cannot use celebrities to endorse it.

Published on October 21, 2016

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