Pierce Brosnan Criticized for Indian Breath-Freshener Commercial

The Hollywood Reporter

India has been shaken and stirred by the appearance of a former James Bond in an advertising campaign for Pan Bahar, a traditional Indian breath freshener - or "pan masala" in Hindi - that is a mixture of nuts, seeds, herbs and spices.

Brosnan's endorsement has come as a surprise to critics, given that the use of pan masala has never been seen as a healthy habit, as some studies have suggested it may include ingredients that can cause cancer. Usually taken after meals, it is also blamed for red-colored spit stains in public spaces across India.

While some Bollywood stars have endorsed the breath freshener - the previous Pan Bahar campaign featured actor Saif Ali Khan - there has been a long-running debate in the country about the marketing of such products.

According to an earlier report in Advertising Age India, a directive by the Delhi government requested Bollywood stars not endorse pan masala. "Even if these pan masalas do not contain tobacco or nicotine, they surely contain areca nuts [known as 'supari' in Hindi], and now there are a lot of scientific evidences, which prove that supari causes cancer," it quoted the directive as saying.

The Brosnan commercial, which re-creates a 007-style scenario, opens with his arrival at a stately mansion in an unnamed location. He overpowers some villains, all with the help of a Pan Bahar tin in his hand, impressing an awestruck wannabe Bond girl. The climax sees Brosnan seated on a thronelike chair, tin in hand, saying: "Pan Bahar: Class never goes out of style."

Read more: India's Film Censor Cuts 'Spectre' Kissing Scenes, Sparks Twitter Backlash

As India woke up Friday to full-page newspaper ads featuring Brosnan in the Pan Bahar campaign, as well as a TV spot, the actor was trolled on Twitter.

"How the mighty have fallen," said Twitter user Gunjan Govani.

Some users posted pictures of Brosnan in the print ads Photoshopped with red spit stains.

Others suggested Brosnan had to be desperate to do such a campaign, with some joking it must have been the result of post-Brexit economic concerns. "Pierce Brosnan is down to endorsing pan -  Brexit clearly is much more severe than it appears," posted Ajith.

Brosnan's Pan Bahar association is in contrast to his earlier Indian campaigns for international companies, such as U.K. men's suit brand Reid & Taylor. Given that India was under British rule for over two centuries until freedom was gained in 1947, the colonial past between the two countries also inspired some tweets.

"When James Bond starts selling 'pan,' you know the empire really has struck back," posted Dhruva Jaishankar. "You know that the [British] empire has really fallen when James Bond starts endorsing Pan Bahar," added Vinisha Valsan.

Brosnan and Pan Bahar have not yet commented on the backlash.

Watch the Brosnan commercial below.

And here are some tweets making fun of Brosnan:


Pierce Brosnan, the most famous James Bond is coming up with his new movie - James Bond - License to Spit. pic.twitter.com/wd9NuhrKho

- Gब्बR (@imAbhishek_J) October 7, 2016

Pierce Brosnan feeling the brunt of Brexit.

- अंशुल (@Ghair_Kanooni) October 7, 2016

Did that just happen????? Pierce brosnan now chews Pan bahar... oh lord #Dieanotherday is taken way too seriously.. #PierceBrosnan

- Monika Gera (@Mons_here) October 7, 2016

Years from now there'll be case studies about Pan Bahar & Pierce Brosnan breaking the internet without ever realising it #PanBahar #pierce

- Percy Bharucha (@sab_bakwaas_hai) October 7, 2016

UK! Look at Pierce Brosnan selling Pan Masala and realise the effects of Brexit.

- Budhaditya Roy (@budhadityaroy) October 7, 2016

Never thought this would happen. Brexit effects? https://t.co/txF6W5eGUe

- Aditi Bakshi (@oddity1912) October 7, 2016

You know that the empire has really fallen when James Bond stars endorsing Pan Bahar. Pierce Brosnan the sexiest bond and gutka poster boy

- Vinisha Valsan (@WildChildVini) October 7, 2016