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'Chill,' says DDB Mudra to Pan Bahar-Pierce Brosnan 'bond'

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MUMBAI: There are some things you can hate, or you can love, but you cannot ignore. For example, the fact that agent 007, James Bond, aka Pierce Brosnan, is actively promoting a pan masala brand in India. 

When India woke up to a white haired Brosnan, peering intensely out from a full page ad on The Times of India, holding a jar of Pan Bahar, the nation did a double take. Soon enough, Twitter and Facebook was flooded with a wide range of mostly polarized reactions -- from mildly amused to some outright offended.

Social influencer and writer Anjali Alappat‏ tweets “The names Bond, James Bond. I have a license to spit? #PanBahar #PierceBrosnan”

And then there were those who went into denial, doubting if it really is the real Pierce Brosnan, or a doppelganger of his, with a good use of make-up and photoshop, or CGI for the video spot that invaded Youtube and Facebook next.

Needless to say funny James Bond memes in a desi avatar trolled the Bond actor, with masters of roasting, All India Bakchod giving a blow in their own signature style

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There were also a few who raised a valid question that led to a proper discussion

Harsha BhogleVerified account ‏@bhogleharsha  6h6 hours ago

Can advertising and brand experts tell us if going viral but becoming a laughing stock is good brand strategy? #PanBahar

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While most agreed that the brand has scored high on brand recall and customer mindshare, there was a general discomfort to the idea of an international star endorsing a homegrown pan masala brrand.

To those who went ‘why on earth?’ DDB Mudra creative head Sambit Mohanty said, ‘why not?’

Mohanty and his creative team at DDB Mudra take full credit for causing this daylong mayhem on the social media, and proudly so.

Of course, the client too was quite the daredevil to have gone ahead with this ‘audacious’ idea.  “It was pretty balsy on the part of the client, but being a pioneer in the category, they know the pulse of their audience. The brand’s TG is the aspirational 30 plus who easily associate with James Bond, aka Pierce Brosnan, with class, style and statement. Therefore they upped the ante by actually getting him on board. And it has paid off, as you can see from the conversation around the brand that the campaign has generated.”

“The decision to bring Pierce Brosnan on board as Pan Bahar’s brand ambassador speaks volumes about our vision and ambition. We always have been focusing on a structured and quality brand promotion aligning with our product quality. As Pan Bahar stands for class, success and sophistication, we see our association with Brosnan as a natural fit,” said DJ Group CEO Dinesh Jain.

No matter which side of the spectrum one lays on this debate, the question that everyone has on their mind is how did the brand convince Brosnan to get onboard?

“We tend to complicate things most times by over speculating about something, and let that negativity get the better of us. How do you know if it won’t work out without even trying it? We simply went ahead and asked Pierce if he would do it, and he agreed. It is that simple. We explained to him what Pan Bahar was, and what it meant for the people who consumed it, and we liked the concept and the scripting,” Mohanty simply stated.

The idea, Mohanty explained, was to bring out the product from everyone’s pocket and have them consume it with pride. “These days pan masala is not just a ‘massy’ thing, several corporate and boardroom tables have pan masalas kept on the table. Moreover we live in a world where Indians are globally successful thanks to their creativity, audacity and entrepreneurial attitude. That’s why, when it came to assigning a new brand ambassador for Pan Bahar, Pierce Brosnan was a great choice. We wanted to give a classy image to the brand and who better to drive that brand statement than James Bong himself?”

Citing the brand’s earlier campaign ‘Pehchan Kamiabi ki’ with Saif Ali Khan, Sambit added the thought remained the same, though it definitely graduated to the next level with Peirce Brosnan as the brand ambassador.

“We easily get starry eyed when we think of Bollywood and often restrain ourselves from thinking far and widen our horizon. The truth is there are several home grown brands that cater to a large enough audience who resonate with an international personality. By restricting ourselves to just Bollywood celebrities we are doing ourselves and our clients a disservice. We should let the possibility to sign on an ambassador who can deliver a far better brand value,” Mohanty added on the use of an international star as opposed to the Bollywood celebrities.

While Mohanty refrained from giving any details, he admitted Brosnan has been well compensated for his year-long deal with the brand, subject to extension based on the brand and the Hollywood star’s wishes.

Shot in Austin, the film begins with Brosnan stopping his sports car in front of a grand entrance. His lady wishes him luck. He has a look of destiny on his face. As he enters the building, he is welcomed by a no. of obstacles waiting for him. He must win over these hurdles to get to the chair, his rightful prize. The film ends with Brosnan saying, “Pan Bahar, class never goes out of style.”

The brand released a teaser on its social channels to create buzz about the film. A series of smartly crafted print teasers were also released, to create anticipation in the market about the campaign. To create a further relevance with 007, the film has been released on 7 October, 2016.

But, the fact remained that several had raised an eyebrow at the actor’s decision to endorse a pan masala brand that is thought to be harmful by many.

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To them, Mohanty says, “It is an advertisement! No one has died! If Brosnan himself doesn’t have an issue, I don’t see the harm in him endorsing this brand. People can take it up with him if they are that concerned, or they can chew on some pan masala, and take a chill pill.”

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