Pierce Brosnan's Pan Bahar Ad Is No Laughing Matter

If trending on Twitter and Facebook mentions are any indication, Pan Bahar has probably got more publicity in one day than it has since it's inception nearly 70 years ago, simply by roping in actor Pierce Brosnan! It's also redefined the 4 Ps of marketing:

Product: Pierce 
Place: Press
Price: Propaganda
Promotion: Pan Bahar       

Opinions remain divided over the Hollywood star's reason for associating with the Indian-based, long-forgotten pan masala brand. Many have expressed shock at Brosnan of 007 fame, associating with a distinctly un-suave brand.

"Fallout of Brexit! He needs the cash" says one marketer. "If Micromax can rope in Hugh Jackman, what's wrong with Pan Bahar doing the same?" says another. 

On a more serious note, not many people even remember that in July 2015, the Maharashtra government banned the sale, purchase and storage of manufactured chewable tobacco, while extending the ban on gutkha, pan masala and similar products for a year. 

In early April this year, in the interest of public health, the Delhi government's Department of Food Safety issued a notification to ban all forms of chewable tobacco, including "gutkha, pan masala, khaini and zarda", in the national capital.

Former James Bond star Pierce Brosnan in the Pan Bahar ad that launched today across print, television and outdoor

On the other hand, in July 2016, the Patna High Court quashed the Bihar government's notification banning the manufacture, storage, distribution, transportation, sale of any type of gutka and pan masala which contain tobacco or nicotine.

And that's what the ad simply intends to do: communicate that the brand has no tobacco or nicotine. 

Health opinions aside, the advertising campaign itself seems to have hit bullseye.

Not only has it resulted in the brand becoming the news, it is likely to have, in just one day, raked in crores of rupees in free media, probably more than what the extravagant campaign would have cost. As someone remarked on Twitter "Money can get you a lot for free!"

This is great news not just for Pan Bahar but also the actor. Of late, Brosnan's films seem to have had little impact, resulting in his fall across popularity charts. An Indian betel nut brand may have changed that.

While the ad does not shine with creativity, the fact is that it doesn't need to. This is one time where the actor and the brand make their presence felt by saying nothing at all. 

Overall, hats off to Pan Bahar! For a brand that originated in a home nearly 70 years ago in the city of Kanpur in India's most populus state, clearly "The World Is Not Enough". 

(Shruti Verma Singh is Head - Strategy and Brand, NDTV Prime)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
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