Indian fans shocked at ex-Bond star Brosnan′s ad for unhealthy ′mouth freshener′ | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 08.10.2016
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Indian fans shocked at ex-Bond star Brosnan's ad for unhealthy 'mouth freshener'

Twitter users poked fun at Hollywood star Pierce Brosnan after he starred in an ad for a brand of the traditional "pan masala" mouth freshener. Such products are leading causes of oral cancer in India.

Indians reacted with shock and surprise after the former James Bond star appeared in a commercial endorsing the product made by the company Pan Bahar.

"Pan Bahar" is a kind of pan masala - a combination of betel leaf, areca nuts, sandalwood oil and cardamom seeds - and is a traditional treat popular among many Indians, who chew it as a digestive after meals.

But pan masala often contains tobacco, and even without this additive, the presence of areca nuts makes it one of the leading causes of oral cancer in the subcontinent. The flavors also make the mixture attractive for young children and teenagers, who get addicted to the product early in life.

Users on Twitter have criticized the company for using a popular star to promote addictive products.

People chewing pan masala are often criticized because of their habit of spitting in public places, and considered unsophisticated - not something one would associate with James Bond.

Users also wondered how a can of pan masala could help 007 win against his enemies.

There were also speculations on how much the Hollywood star may have been paid for the campaign - this user suggests 938,000 euros ($1.05 million).

Some people speculated that Brosnan hadn't saved enough for his retirement, forcing him to work in such commercials. 

The politically-oriented were quick to link the commercial with India's colonial history.

Pan Bahar is a 50-year-old traditional Indian chewing-tobacco and mouth-freshener producer and has a turnover of around 30 million euros ($33.6 million) annually. Speaking to Indian finance website Live Mint, the company's CEO Akhil Jain said using Brosnan would help reposition the brand and make it appear more modern for India's young people.

The company also issued a statement saying its "Pan Bahar" brand did not have any tobacco and was only a "mouth freshener."

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