Former 007 star Pierce Brosnan has told Indian authorities he was “cheated” by a company that employed him to promote its mouth freshener brand, officials said Friday.
Brosnan first appeared in the adverts on TV channels, newspapers and billboards in 2016 for Pan Bahar, a mixture of spices and areca nut a known carcinogen linked to oral cancer.
The James Bond-style TV ad, which sparked ridicule on social media, showed a bearded Brosnan fighting villains and flirting with beautiful women before revealing a can of Pan Bahar.
The ad also prompted health authorities in Delhi to send a notice to the 64-year-old Irish actor, asking him to explain his appearance in the commercial.
In his reply, Brosnan said his contract with the company was over and he would not endorse “any harmful product” in future, senior health department official S.K Arora told AFP on Friday.
“Mr Brosnan has said that he has been cheated by the company as they had not disclosed the hazardous nature of the product,” Arora said.
The makers of Pan Bahar insist their product does not contain nicotine, but many other pan masala mixtures in India contain tobacco along with pastes, areca nut and spices.
In India, alcohol and tobacco brands are not allowed to advertise, so marketing firms often use surrogate products for promotion.
“The advertisement also violates Indian laws on surrogate advertisement,” said Arora, adding that the areca nuts used in Pan Bahar were scientifically proven to cause cancer.
An official of Ashok and Company, which manufactures Pan Bahar as well as tobacco products, refused to comment immediately.
Arora said Brosnan had promised to assist Indian authorities “to stop such kind of campaigns for hazardous products”.
Authorities said they would review Brosnan’s reply before deciding on what action, if any, to take.