Amitabh Bachchan sends legal notice to pan masala brand for airing commercials featuring him
A Story by Jasmine Kaur
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan has issued a legal notice to Kamla Pasand for continuing to air commercials featuring him despite the termination of the contract.
Big B had withdrawn from the advertising campaign of the pan masala brand on his 79th birthday in October; weeks after the national anti-tobacco organization had reportedly requested him to refrain from endorsing pan masala as it could help prevent youngsters from getting addicted to tobacco.
Sources from Big B’s office have confirmed to ANI that a legal notice has been sent to KamlaPasand by the veteran actor’s team.
PAN MASALA CONTROVERSY
“Came to know from the office of Mr. Bachchan, that legal notice has been sent to KamlaPasand, to stop broadcasting the TV commercials with Bachchan immediately. as it was noticed that despite termination of the endorsement agreement, KamlaPasand has ignored the same and is seen to continue airing the TV commercials,” the sources told.
For the unversed, the ‘Don’ star himself revealed that he stepped down as the face of a pan masala brand, in a blog post shared on the occasion of his birthday.
The statement shared on his blog, which said “From the office of Amitabh Bachchan”, read, “KamlaPasand … a few days after the commercial was aired, Bachchan contacted the brand and stepped out of it last week.”
Last month, the National Organization for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE), an NGO, had also appealed to Bachchan to not be part of advertisements that promote paan masala brands. In an open letter, NOTE president Dr. Shekhar Salkar had said that the actor should withdraw from “surrogate” paan masala advertisements and support the cause of the anti-tobacco movement.
“Upon checking why this sudden move – it was revealed that when Bachchan became associated with the brand, he wasn’t aware that it falls under surrogate advertising Bachchan has terminated the contract with the Brand, has written to them his termination and has returned the money received for the promotion,” the statement added.
WHY AMITABH BACHCHAN TERMINATED CONTRACT WITH PAN MASALA BRAND?
On the occasion of his 79th birthday on October 11, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan terminated his contract with a pan masala brand, saying “he wasn’t aware it fell under surrogate advertising”. He has even returned the money he received as part of his contract.
An official statement from Amitabh Bachchan’s office read, “Kamala Pasand… a few days after the commercial was aired, Mr. Bachchan contacted the brand and stepped out of it last week. Upon checking why this sudden move, it was revealed that when Mr. Bachchan became associated with the brand, he wasn’t aware that it falls under surrogate advertising. Mr. Bachchan has terminated the contract with the Brand, has written to them his termination and has returned the money received for the promotion.”
The move comes after the actor faced backlash on social media for featuring in an advertisement of a pan masala brand. In September, the National Organization for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE), an NGO, had also urged Bachchan to not endorse commercials that promote pan masala brands.
“As an oncologist and member of an NGO working in the field of tobacco cessation, I am aggrieved and provoked to wage war against the dubious measures, such embellishment done by various influential and famous Bollywood actors like Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Ranveer Singh, and Hrithik Roshan, leading to increased tobacco use among students,” read the NOTE letter.
WHAT IS SURROGATE ADVERTISING?
Surrogate advertisements are those advertisements where the brand image of one product is duplicated to promote another product of the same brand. This technique of advertising is used by those brands which manufacture products that cannot be advertised on mass media.
The concept of surrogate advertisements gathered steam in India after the advertising of sin goods — like tobacco and liquor products — was banned on mass media under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995.
However, the Act gave leeway for surrogate advertisements under the cover of brand extensions, saying — a product that uses a brand name or logo, which is also used for cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor, or other intoxicants, may be advertised on cable services.
After a ban on direct advertisement of sin goods, the liquor and tobacco industry found a way to promote its products through surrogate advertisements. In these surrogate ads, banned products are not projected directly to consumers but rather masked under another product under the same brand name. The objective is to familiarise people with a brand so that whenever there is a mention of that brand, people start associating it with its main product.
For instance, liquor brands often advertise music CDs. Similarly, pan masala brands have been seen to project themselves as cardamom or saffron-coated mouth fresheners.
In the past, alcohol brand Kingfisher used to advertise its bottled water, soda, and even a calendar under the brand name ‘Kingfisher’.