Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan fans in India are unhappy about his new role as the brand ambassador of a 'pan masala' brand Reuters/Danny Moloshok

Think Pierce Brosnan, and James Bond circa late 1990s-early 2000s comes to mind, complete with shaken martinis, nifty gadgets and a classic sense of style. What does not come to mind is the image of the actor chewing on a betel nut-based mouth freshener, known to cause oral cancer.

So it was a shock to fans in India that the Irish actor had signed on to become the brand ambassador for the "pan masala" brand Pan Bahar. On 7 October, newspapers across the country featured a front page advertisement of a heavily bearded Brosnan posing with a tin of the product, with the tag line, "Class never goes out of style" alongside.

As if the print advert was not surprising enough to draw people to comment, the television commercial did the job. Keeping with his 007 character, the Die Another Day star is spotted getting out of a swanky car and into a luxury hotel.

When stopped by one bouncer, he whips out his tin of Pan Bahar and flings it at the man's head, knocking him cold. Amusingly, the container ricochets off his head, back into the actor's hand.

Then comes the pretty young woman who unsuccessfully tries to steal the mouth freshener from our hero. She is followed by a team of ninjas and finally a group of men who look like mafia bosses.

Watch the video of the advertisement below:

Pan masala, which is made up of betel nuts, cardamom, lime, catechu and natural perfumes is known to have health side effects that include damaged teeth, oral submucous fibrosis (SMF) and can even lead to oral cancer. Some versions of the treat include chewing tobacco.

While DDB Mudra Group, the advertising agency behind the campaign may believe there's no such thing as bad publicity, Twitter and the internet in general are not of the same opinion.