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James Bond Actor Pierce Brosnan Stars in Ad for Indian Pan Masala

Pierce Brosnan is the new face of Pan Bahar, an Indian brand of “paan masala,” a concoction of areca nut, a stimulant, and spices often chewed along with tobacco or betel leaf by millions in South Asians.

The debonair actor, a former James Bond, is appearing as a pitchman for the mixture, which carries a government-mandated warning declaring that it is “injurious to health.” The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies the areca nut as carcinogenic to humans.

A front-page ad in the Times of India on Friday featured a photo of a bearded Mr. Brosnan in a tuxedo holding a container of Pan Bahar above the slogan “Class never goes out of style.”

“We know today that we are the world capital for mouth cancers,” said Dr. Vishal Rao, a Bangalore-based oncologist with Healthcare Global Enterprises Ltd., a network of cancer centers in India. “India removes so many jaws, throats, tongues,” he said.

“My message to Pierce Brosnan is do not endorse a product you do not use,” he said. “Pierce Brosnan’s lips are pink, not red,” Mr. Rao said, a reference to the stained teeth and lips many who chew such concoctions develop.

A representative at the London-based Lisa Richards Agency said the company represents Mr. Brosnan, but that his agent, Richard Cook, was out of the office and not available to field queries on the campaign. Mr. Cook did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent via email.

An ad posted on YouTube shows Mr. Brosnan pulling up in front of what looks like a hotel in flashy sports car with a woman who says, “best of luck, agent.”

Once inside, Mr. Brosnan knocks out an enemy with a can of the paan masala, made by Ashok & Co. Pan Bahar Ltd., and defeats four ninjas in the time it takes for him to throw a can of the stuff in the air and catch it again.

Vikash Shukla, head of marketing for the manufacturer, said it didn’t matter whether Mr. Brosnan was a paan consumer or not. “It is kind of the expression on his face, his maturity,” that led the company to choose him, he said.

Asked how much Mr. Brosnan was paid for the endorsement, Mr. Shukla said the information was “confidential.”

The social media reaction to Mr. Brosnan’s new endorsement meant that his name was trending on Twitter.


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