The name’s Bahar... Pan Bahar

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

bl08 bond masala

Pan masala ad with former James Bond hero leaves market shaken and stirred

As the secret service agent 007, there is nothing that James Bond will not do “for Queen and country.”

It now appears there’s nothing that mercenary ex-James Bond stars will not do for cold cash. Even promote pan masala products.

The world woke up on Friday to the sight of Hollywood actor Pierce Brosnan, most famous for his James Bond roles, endorsing local pan masala brand Pan Bahar in newspaper ads and on billboards.

A flamboyantly bearded Brosnan was wielding a can of Pan Bahar with the nonchalance with which Bond wields a Walther PPK as his weapon of choice.

For many, though, the image was hard to digest. On social media platforms, the Pan Bahar brand trended through the day, but not in a good way. Ridicule and good-natured humour characterised much of the response.

Pan Bahar may have reason to believe it had pulled off an endorsement coup, but brand experts had mixed opinions.

“When was the last time there was so much chatter about a pan masala brand? However, there is some criticism about the choice of brand ambassador,” Future Brands MD and CEO Santosh Desai told BusinessLine.

Brand expert Harish Bijoor said, “There needs to be some connect and synergy between the brand and the ambassador.” However, Akhil Jain, CEO , Ashok & Co Pan Bahar Ltd, is unfazed. “Pan Bahar is a premium brand and a master blend, and needed a face that supports this positioning. Brosnan is an epitome of style, maturity and sophistication.”

Others questioned the wisdom of celebrities endorsing a pan masala brand. In an advisory issued in January, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) had stated, “While products likePan Masala and Supari are not banned for sale or from advertising by law, the ASCI code does not permit the use of celebrities in advertisements of products which by law require health warning on its pack or cannot be purchased or used by minors.”

When contacted, ASCI Secretary-General Shweta Purandare refused to comment on individual campaigns. Jain, on the other hand, said there was no violation of the ASCI code.

But there’s no doubt that the entire ad market has been shaken and stirred.

Published on October 07, 2016

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