Bollywood’s veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan announced his withdrawal from the advertising campaign of pan masala brand Kamla Pasand. The move comes on his 79th birthday, weeks after the national anti-tobacco organisation requested him to refrain from endorsing pan masala as it could help prevent youngsters from getting addicted to tobacco.
The actor was also trolled on social media for endorsing Kamla Pasand when the ads were released last month. Bachchan initially defended his stance, calling it part and parcel of the entertainment business that provides employment to many.
A few days after the commercial was aired, Bachchan contacted the brand and stepped out of it last week. 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 returned the money received for the promotion," a statement from the actor’s office said.
Released mid-September, the ad is surrogate one mentioning Kamla Pasand "silver coated elaichi". But it drew social media flak almost immediately. First Bachchan responded to some users saying taking up projects helps both artistes and other employees of the entertainment ecosystem. Bachchan features in the ad with actor Ranveer Singh who plays his son.
Surrogate advertising is defined as a form of advertising which is used to promote banned products, like cigarettes\tobacco and alcohol, in the disguise of another product. The Code for Self-Regulation of Advertising Content in India by ASCI (The Advertising Standards Council of India) outlines among harmful situations (in advertising), featuring “personalities from the field of sports and entertainment for products which, by law, require a health warning such as “….. is injurious to health" in their advertising or packaging." Manisha Kapoor, secretary-General, ASCI said, by law, tobacco advertising is not allowed.