Pan Masala Mafia How Surrogate Ads work

 Hello, friends!

Have you ever noticed your favorite celebrities on TV or in the newspaper?

in advertisements for Pan Masala and alcoholic liquor?

But when you watch these ads closely,

then you can see that the ads aren't for alcohol or pan masala

instead, it's for cardamon, mouth freshener, or soda water.

This is known as Surrogate Advertisement.

And in today's post,

come, let's understand this surrogate mafia properly.

*Haywards 500 Soda.

Intoxicating friendships.* 

*Kamla Pasand; unique flavors.*

*This is the new Revolution I want to start,

it's called Mardangiri (to man up).


Similar to cigarettes,

Gutka is a product that contains tobacco.

And people chew it.

There are hundreds of research papers in which it has been proven that

chewing gutka leads to an increased risk of mouth cancer.

This is the reason why for many years,

the sale of gutka is banned in most of the Indian states.

Under the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulation, 2011,

the government has banned gutka and pan masala

that contain tobacco and nicotine.

These can't be sold.

But when this ban was enacted,

these companies found a loophole.

They removed the tobacco from their products

and said that they are selling tobacco-free pan masala.

But along with it, in a different packet,

they started selling tobacco.

Selling 2 sachets instead of 1.

One for the tobacco-free pan masala,

and the tobacco in the other.

People buy both packets together

and mix them before consuming them.

It's the same thing.

Interestingly, their tobacco-free pan masala still contained areca nuts

it is a potential cancer-causing agent.

This loophole was in Regulation 2.3.4.

Wording it so that

it prohibits adding tobacco to any foodstuff.

So what did they do?

They started selling tobacco separately instead of adding it to the chewing mix.

That's the loophole.

This is only one thing.

Moreover, these companies have directly lied to their customers.

In August 2019,

12 pan masala brands were analyzed in Bihar.

The State Health Department sent the samples to the

National Tobacco Testing Laboratories.

7 out of the 12 samples.,

were found to be nicotine positive.

Brands like Kamla Pasand, Rajnigandha, Rajshri were included in the 7.

In their packets, these companies had written

that their pan masala didn't contain nicotine.

That they are Nicotine-free.

But actually, their samples contained nicotine.

Additionally, all 12 pan masala brands

were using a harmful chemical,

magnesium carbonate.

So many misstatements in their products.

But now, let's talk about how these companies use advertisements to fool people.

Friends, the thing is,

earlier, ads for tobacco were legal in India.

Tobacco could be freely advertised.

You might remember, there was an ad with Akshay Kumar years ago,

'people smoking red and white are better.'

He was promoting smoking in it.

Thankfully, today Akshay Kumar stars in anti-smoking ads.

Making ads against smoking.

That you can see in cinema halls even.

The ads of these tobacco products were banned in May 2003.

Under COTPA, 2003.




This change wasn't limited to India.

The World Health Organisation had adopted the WHO FCTC.

In May 2003.

Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

The treaty aimed at discouraging tobacco use all around the world.

And 181 countries ratified this convention.

But here, the companies found the loophole

of Surrogate Advertising.

Friends, normally, when a parent company

launches various products,

they launch them using different brand names.

With distinct taglines and logos.

For example, did you know, that Hindustan Unilever Limited

is the same company producing Cornetto ice cream

and Horlicks powder.

Not only this, Horlicks and Boost, are products in the same category

but belong to the same company.

The Hindustan Unilever Limited.

But with different brand names.

But what do the pan masala and gutka companies do?

Exactly the opposite.

They sell their multiple products under the same brand name

the same tagline, same logo in similar sachets.

If they sell their non-tobacco products

under the same name, same tagline, and the same logo,

then it would create a brand recall in people's minds.

This is known as Surrogate Advertising.

People would be confused about which product is being advertised.

Pan masala with tobacco?

Cardamom? Or the mouth freshener?

It's being done intentionally.

They want people to be confused.

Because they want to advertise their pan masala

but in small letters, they show that it is their cardamon that's advertised.

This is known as Surrogate Advertisement.

Look at this ad by Kamala Pasand.

Amitabh Bachchan and Ranveer Singh are on the front page of the newspaper advertising it.

If you look at it carefully,

in minute letters,

it's written that it's an ad for silver-coated cardamon.

Other than this newspaper advertisement 

they have a 20-second long post ad

where the father enjoys classical songs

but the son enjoys modern songs,

"both of them are different,

but they have the same taste when it comes to Kamala Pasand."

In this ad, they are holding the sachet of Kamala Pasand near their mouths

implying that they consume it.

In the ad, it's not even clarified which product they are consuming.

But again, if you look closely, it's written in tiny fonts

that they are consuming the silver-coated cardamon by Kamala Pasand.

Its sachet resembles that of the pan masala containing tobacco.

Similarly, if you watch the ad for Vimal

with Shahrukh Khan and Ajay Devgan,

nowhere in the ad is it specified that it is for cardamon,

but at the end, for a few seconds,

they'll show 'cardamon' written on their sachet.

Similarly, alcohol brands use surrogate advertisements

through bottled water and soda.

Even music CDs.

Whoever uses CDs for listening to music now?

Friends, our government isn't unaware of what's happening.

The Advertisement Standards Council of India,

ASCI has enacted Advertising Regulations

regarding surrogate advertisements.

It means that laws do exist for surrogate advertisements.

These laws state that

the product extension must be genuine.

Meaning, if you are selling cardamon, bottled water, or soda,

the brand can advertise only existing products.

They can't claim to be selling cardamon,

but they don't have a cardamon product.

It can't be found at any shop.

It's important to have the product.

And according to the rules, the net sales turnover from the product,

must be at least ₹2 million at the time of the launch of the ad.

Or the company may show

that they have made asset investments into the product.

Like, buying land, building a factory, getting machinery or software

that is exclusive for the product.

And its value must be at least ₹100 million.

The next rule states that the product extension

should be registered with a government authority.

Under GST, FSSAI or FDA.

And that it should be audited by independent organizations.

And it's also mandated that

no surrogate advertisement can hint towards any banned product.

Not even imply it.

For example, in Shahrukh Khan's Royal Stag ad,

he says 'keep adding smalls to make it large.'

It isn't believable that he is talking about music CDs instead of whisky. 

For this reason, friends,

ASCI had banned 12 advertisements at the beginning of this year in January. 

When their investigation found that

there are ads that hint towards the banned products.

Directly hinting at them.

These ads were run during the last IPL

and companies like Royal Stag, Sterling Reserve, Blender's Pride were involved in it.

The judgment was passed that these ads

may be run after suitable modifications.

You can imagine how easy it is for the companies.

Though the ad was banned, they can publish it again after some adjustments.

Friends, apart from surrogate advertisements, there are several unethical marketing tactics,

used by the brands.

Kothari Products, the company manufacturing Pan Parag,

had the annual sales turnover for the year 2020,

at ₹41 billion.

So, you can imagine?

These companies are earning billions.

For them, showing sales at ₹2 million per month

around ₹24 million per year,

how difficult can it be?

These laws aren't strong at all.

Similarly, how difficult would it be for them to modify the ad a little and run it again?

The existing laws have a negligible impact on these ads.

Even if a company follows all the rules,

suppose Kamala Pasand, Vimal, and Rajnigandha

actually have business from silver-coated cardamon.

That meets the requirements for the minimum sales turnover,

and are genuine products without tobacco in them.

Despite that

using the same brand name and taglines,

and creating recall value for the pan masala,

aren't the surrogate ads unfair?

Aren't they unethical?

In my opinion, it has a simple solution,

the government should make such a law

that any company selling alcohol or tobacco products under any brand name,

shouldn't be allowed to use the same brand name and/or tagline for other products.

If Vimal wants to sell its Vimal Pan Masala,

then it shouldn't be allowed to name its other product Vimal Elaichi.

Or any similar name.

If Kingfisher Beer exists,

Kingfisher Soda shouldn't.

Both should have distinct brand names.

Change the name of the Soda from Kingfisher to anything else.

And it is a very simple solution.

This should be banned.

They shouldn't have the same brand names or similar brand names.

To do this, a strong political will is required.

If the government wants to do this, they can do so immediately.

But the entire responsibility can't be shifted on the government alone.

If we put aside politics or the legal framework,

there is some responsibility on the celebrities as well.

That they shouldn't advertise such products.

A Goan oncologist Dr. Shekhar Salkar,

the President of the National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication,

wrote an open letter to Amitabh Bachchan in September

that he stop doing such ads and withdraw them immediately.

On 9th October, I tweeted about it too.

Specifically pointing out Amitabh Bachchan and Ranveer Singh,

many people had spoken out against it.

Whenever celebrities come out with such ads.

It's quite simple.

These are rich people.

Earning billions of rupees,

so what is the desperation behind advertising such harmful products?

What's the use of becoming an influencer or a celebrity

if you start selling cancer to people?

After a large number of people spoke out against it,

2 days later, the news came in that Amitabh Bachchan,

backed out of the ad for the pan masala.

And that he had returned the money.

It's yet to be seen how true it is.

Because you can still see the same ad with Amitabh Bachchan on TV.

Additionally, there is a long list of celebrities

who is literally selling cancer to the people of the country?

Ranveer Singh, Shahrukh Khan, Ajay Devgan,

and many other celebrities that have starred in the ads for mouth fresheners in the past

that were surrogate ads for pan masala,

or 'cardamon' ads,

Salman Khan, Hritik Roshan,

Manoj Bajpayee, Tiger Shroff,

Saif Ali Khan, Priyanka Chopra,

Anushka Sharma, Sunny Leone,

Govinda, Mahesh Babu,

Ravi Kishan, Arbaaz Khan,

Sanjay Dutt and Akshay Kumar.

Though those celebrities should also be credited

who used to star in these ads earlier

but later when they realized that they were wrong, they stopped doing these ads.

Like in 2016, when the Additional Director of the Delhi Government's Health Department 

openly appealed to all the celebrities,

to stop being a part of such ads,

Sunny Leone had promised that she wouldn't sign any future contracts for such products.

But many unabashed actors still continue

to openly star in such ads.

Ajay Devgan's classic ad that runs so frequently,

"It'll be glorious when the three friends meet."

Another Bigpipers' ad featuring Shahrukh Khan.

Vimal's ad still runs with Shahrukh Khan and Ajay Devgan.

Personally, I have no enmity against any celebrity.

Many of the celebrities that I named now,

are those whom I love to watch. 

I love their work.

Shahrukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, Hritik Roshan,

I love to watch these actors in films.

Sonu Sood, I love how charitable he is.

Manoj Bajpayee is one of the most talented actors here.

But it is very important to point out the wrong.

Because these have a very negative impact on the citizens and our society.

That's why it's important to point it out.

If you watch your favorite celebrities doing such terrible surrogate ads,

speak out against it.

Don't become a blind follower of your favorite celebrity.

Send this message to them on their social media

and try to explain this to them politely.

I hope there's some change for the better in our country after this post,

regarding these things.

Thank you very much!

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