MUMBAI - Speaking with Campaign India, Akhil Jain, CEO of Pan Bahar, said his company has seen no reason to stop running an ad campaign featuring actor Pierce Brosnan, despite the actor's claims that he was misled about what he was endorsing (see Pierce Brosnan's Pan Bahar row: Whose fault is it?).
Moreover, the CEO said the company has not heard directly from the actor or his representatives on the matter. After the campaign debuted, Brosnan told People Magazine that he had done the ads believing that he was endorsing a teeth-whitening breath freshener and demanded the company remove his image from all its advertising.
Jain explained that the contract was only for Pan Bahar, a pan masala that contains neither nicotine nor tobacco. While he refused to go into the details of the contract, the company's website shows that the product, like all pan masalas, does contain supari, which has known harmful effects.
"We have not violated any contract," said Jain. The company has since decided to carry on with the advertising featuring Brosnan. But the CEO added that while the campaign has been released in line with the contract, there will be a board meeting after Diwali (early November) to decide on the way forward.
"Things happened as per contract so we don't see any need of pulling the film down," he said. "I have seen the media and his statements. But, we haven't got any direct statement from him or his team. We are waiting for some clarifications and will then take a call accordingly."
According to the CEO, the film and the association with the former James Bond actor are working for the brand.
"In my view, the negative response is because of the category [we operate in]," Jain said. "Critics are sharing these negative responses. The masses are appreciating this campaign. People are recognising Bond and the association with him is helping us for sure. Controversies happen, but I'd like to repeat that there is no violation of the contract we signed with him."
In India, it is not illegal to advertise pan masalas, and several Bollywood stars continue to endorse them. However, advertising products containing tobacco is not allowed by law. Pan Bahar is a brand of pan masala, but the group also sells other brands containing tobacco. Brosnan's contract and film are only for Pan Bahar, according to Jain. While the contract is for two years, it only covers one ad film.