Fernando Alonso, Circuit de Catalunya, Ferrari, 2018

Tobacco advertising could return to F1 under Ferrari’s new Philip Morris deal

2018 F1 season

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Ferrari sponsor Philip Morris could use its association with the team to promote a line of tobacco products which it markets as being ‘smoke-free’.

The team’s sponsor announced its partnership “will be exclusively focused on advancing the cause of a smoke-free world”. Philip Morris’s smoke-free brand Iqos mimics conventional cigarettes but heats tobacco instead of burning it.

PMI’s chief executive officer André Calantzopoulos said the company is “committed to use all available resources, including our motorsports related activities, to accelerate momentum around this revolutionary change for the benefit of people who smoke, public health and society at large.”

The company noted in a statement that the plans for its promotional activities with Ferrari “does not envisage any product-specific communications” at present and they “expect to announce further details in the coming months”.

Iqos branding, which uses green and blue colours against a while background, would not be a natural fit with Ferrari’s bright red. However Moto GP team Ducati, which is also backed by Philip Morris, has been tipped to run Iqos logos on its bikes following changes to its livery for the 2018 season to incorporate more grey.

Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati, Moto GP, 2017
Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati, Moto GP, 2017
Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati, Moto GP, 2018
Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati, Moto GP, 2018

Reports earlier this week claimed Ferrari will drop the white elements of its branding this year, following the departure of former sponsor Santander. The team is due to reveal its 2018 car and livery tomorrow.

Tobacco advertisers largely disappeared from Formula One at the end of 2006 due to regulations preventing the promotion of their brands. Philip Morris continued to back Ferrari but was forced to revise its branding on multiple occasions following complaints it was circumventing the rules to promote Marlboro cigarettes.

Ferrari announced an extension of its sponsorship deal with Philip Morris last year. The current contract runs to 2021. Philip Morris says it wants one in three of its 40 million consumers to switch to its ‘smoke-free’ products by 2025.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 39 comments on “Tobacco advertising could return to F1 under Ferrari’s new Philip Morris deal”

    1. I’m really surprised that not a single major tobacco company has jumped onboard with vaping to create new signature brands. Given the massive restrictions on advertising and packaging now for cigarettes, you’d have thought it would be an ideal way to keep their brands, and their brand identity, at the forefront of people’s minds. Why not have a ‘Marlboro E’ range of vaping products, with the familiar red and white (or gold, green, blue, whatever), featuring exclusing e-liquid flavours derived from the Marlboro tobacco lines?

      Is it really the case that tobacco companies feel so threatened by vaping as a competitor that they would see it as competing with themselves? To me, it seems an absolute no brainer – smoking is as good as dead and within a generation these brands will completely disappear, along with brands of snuff and chewing tobacco, if they don’t move with the times.

      1. Vaping is not better than smoking if anything its just as worse as smoking. why promote tobacco brands anyways? seems like Italians have sold their soul to companies actively involved in killing people in most painful way possible.

          1. Like sticking your hand in a meat grinder is safer than sticking your head in.

            1. I am sure you never do anything at all that harms your health like eating any sugar… Or do you sit, stand walk with proper form all the time, and never ever slouch.. etc.. etc.. etc..

            2. Yes, sticking your hand in a meat grinder will hurt, but much less than sticking your head in.

              Point is, nicotine is addictive, and if you HAVE to be addicted to it, then vaping is a safer way and new results showing much safer longer term than the guaranteed health problems that smoking introduces.

              Nobody is saying that vaping is “safe”, they’re saying that if you’re addicted, then it is “safER” than smoking

          2. A new study came out that vaping is more harmful 1st and second hand at causing cancer. Something to do with inhaling the plastic that comes out with each puff.

        1. Well that’s simply not true. Vaping does not produce tar or carbon monoxide. It’s not carcinogen free (what is?) but produces now where near the quantities that burning tobacco does.
          That said; should sport be used to market such an addictive drug?

          1. The sport is promoting alcohol. Motorsport, mind you. On cars, drivers, and tracks! I think promoting vaping is less hypocritical and more fitting with the gradual switch to greener engines – we produce smoke, but it’s saf-ER now. just like vaping.

        2. @Chaitanya – Don’t talk nonsense! Vaping is no-where near as harmful as Smoking!

          @Paul Duggan – There are large swathes of Vapers who use nicotine free vape oil and as such there is no “addictive drug” involved.

      2. I’m not making any kind of ethical judgement on the merits of smoking or vaping (though certainly the medical evidence does not support what you’re saying about vaping being no better) – I’m simply speaking in terms of good business sense. There are far fewer restrictions on vaping when it comes to how brands are promoted, and it seems like a good opportunity to promote big brands like Marlboro using e-cigarettes when it wouldn’t be possible to promote the traditional cigarette products. Key is keeping the brand, the name, in people’s minds – people can make their own connections.

        1. @mazdachris

          Key is keeping the brand, the name, in people’s minds – people can make their own connections.

          I agree it makes sense from a business point of view but for legal compliance if they’re going to advertise it surely they have to have a completely separate brand to what they’ve had before?

          1. @keithcollantine Oh for sure, but in the same sense that Ferrari have essentially been running their cars in Marlboro colours long since the tobacco sponsorship ban, so too I imagine their are various loopholes and creative interpretations of the law that can be used to raise/maintain brand awareness without directly advertising the cigarette brands themselves.

            Either way the tobacco industry has to be in a decline from which it won’t recover, so if the likes of Philip Morris want to continue to live into the future, they need to quite radically change what thye’re doing. And e-cigarettes seem like an obvious altenative. Certainly more so than smokeless tobacco. After all, there’s already a significant market for vaping, though I suspect that ship has already sailed.

          2. A company like Yamaha sells anything from Boat motors to music equipment – so the question is if Guitar manufactures where banned from sponsoring F1 could Yamaha’s Marine division still sponsor a team?

          3. @keithcollantine @mazdachris I think the brand name could stay if they promote a product line under that brand. For example Carlos Sainz’s beer sponsor, Estrella Galicia isn’t using its brand name in itself, it’s promoting its 0,0% product specifically on the car and helmet, so it’s under no alcohol ban. Yet if you might want to buy a product of theirs, I doubt you will only think about its alcohol free version. So if Marlboro has a product line like Marlboro Vape or whatever and go around the smoking ban, PMI could probably put it on the car and have the advertising space for Marlboro.

            1. @hunocsi But advertising alcohol isn’t banned in the same way advertising cigarettes is.

      3. smoking is as good as dead and within a generation these brands will completely disappear

        In Europe perhaps, but in many parts of the world smoking is alive and well and will continue to be for some time into the future…

        1. Smoking is alive and well….oh the irony.

        2. And maybe that is the reason why a Western sport should not be used to export our past mistakes (i.e. smoking) to the developing world. Even if it is just the little less lethal brother of smoking.

        3. @geemac You’re absolutely right that smoking will persist for decades, perhaps even centuries. But with smoking in huge decline across the US and Europe, and likely in Asia in the coming decades, the point is that huge miltinationals whose only business is essentially tobacco are on a terminal downward curve. If these companies want to survive, let alone grow and thrive, they need to move away from products which firstly kill the people that use them, and secondly is becoming socially unacceptable across the world.

          Smoking relies on a certain amount of people doing it, enjoying it, as a form of social proof. People start smoking not because smoking is an inherently enjoyable experience (anyone who has ever tried a cigarette will attest to the fact that it’s disgusting until your body acclimatises – become addicted), but rather because it has a desirable image as part of a certain sort of lifestyle. Once that image stops being desirable, people will no longer put themselves through the pain of acclimatising to being a smoker. Especially when vaping has more social credit, and actually tastes good right from the get-go.

          1. Smoking relies on a certain amount of people doing it, enjoying it, as a form of social proof. People start smoking not because smoking is an inherently enjoyable experience (anyone who has ever tried a cigarette will attest to the fact that it’s disgusting until your body acclimatises – become addicted), but rather because it has a desirable image as part of a certain sort of lifestyle.

            That’s a great point.

            Nowadays, many young to middle aged people (speaking about central Europe), see smoking as a lower class thing. Even most of the people I know who smoke don’t allow smoking in their homes, except kitchens usually, or some open spaces.

      4. Vaping is like the Formula E to smoking.. 😂

      5. As far as I know, @mazdachris what PM wants to flog here is not the regular vaping. It is more something like heated real tobacco inside the things. They even got state subsidies to produce it in the Netherlands (i think i read about that last year in my Dutch newspaper)

        1. @bascb indeed, which is why I’m saying I’m surprised they’re not trying to jump on the vape bandwagon. I’ve herbal vaporisers and while they work, in the sense that you get the chemicals you want, the smokeless element means that you don’t get that taste or ‘throat hit’ that you get from smoking the real thing. That hit is the thing you miss from basically every NRT except for vaping, and the reason why vaping has actually caught on and become successful.

          It’s like tobacco companies want nothing to do with vaping at all.

          1. It’s like tobacco companies want nothing to do with vaping at all.

            I think that is exactly the point yeah @mazdachris. As far as I remember from what i read about this product from PM is that they want to highlight that it is “pure natural tobacco” – also their ties to actual tobacco plantations plays a role here, since quite a lot of vaping products have little to do with anything but a chemicals factory.

          2. @mazdachris My initial reaction on your suggestion is that with tobacco advertising banned, having Marlboro E on a car would not fly just because their alleged intent is to sell tobacco for vapers, perhaps even of their own brand, or what have you. It is still advertising cigarettes even if they are ‘E’ and I think tobacco companies would be all too ready, willing, and able to take license if they were suddenly allowed to put their brands names back on cars. Surely they would stand on the highest peak to shout out to the world, no no we’re not promoting smoking cigarettes…honest! I would think from a technical and legal standpoint they’d have to come up with completely different names that would distinguish all that any young googler could find out about a brand from the past, so that it wouldn’t appear that the tobacco companies are just trying to wind back the advertising clock under the guise of promoting something healthier. In other words although it sounds sensible from a business standpoint for the tobacco companies to do this, I question that there would be the same enthusiasm from those who had the power to shut down tobacco advertising to begin with.

            1. Just realized that several hours ago Keith made the same point in a much more succinct way.

    2. Ferrari changed their logo in January which removed the Marlboro element of it. To state the obvious, Philip Morris will certainly be having a big say on the livery / sponsorship front of the new Ferrari after removing that form of subliminal advertising on the car, and having just signed a new deal again. Seems as though they will take up the space left by Santander.

    3. Fair enough if there’s more and more logos for alcohol-free “beer”, on cars like the Renault and around the tracks in green.

      I hope the Ferrari’s nothing like the Ducati, unless they want to look like a 1998 Williams (not good).
      A Ferrari should be deep red and not plastered with desperate logos – kind of like the back end of a Sauber…

    4. To be honest I’m surprised gambling organizations haven’t moved into F1 the way they are in soccer. They appear to have lots of money to throw into advertising, some F1 teams are struggling to get title sponsors and F1 would seem to be a good platform for advertising their products.

      1. In most European countries there are restrictions or even bans on sponsorship by betting companies.

    5. Honestly, the ridiculous amount of sugar in Red Bull drinks absolutely no better… Might as well allow tobacco advertising considering what Red Bull gets away with.

      Empty calories are as bad as nicotine, no doubt. We’ll look back on these days of F1 drivers with cans of energy drinks like we do at drivers with a cigarette in their mouth 40 years ago.

      There is absolutely no reason for any sensible person to be drinking (let alone purchasing) such rubbish.

      1. Honestly, the ridiculous amount of sugar in Red Bull drinks absolutely no better…

        Haha, yes, energy drinks are indeed horrible.
        Only upside I can see is that there is no “second-hand” drinking. :)

        But sugar addiction, even though not as hard as tobacco addiction, is still really strong.

    6. That picture at the beginning of the article really confuses me, why would Ferrari let a driver working for two competing get anywhere near their cars in 2018?

    7. Ban anything related to tobacco consumption by humans for reason that it is an extremely addictive product that when used as directed by the manufacturer, can kill you.

      The new F1 got rid of the grid girls but will again allow tobacco sponsorship ??

    8. Gridgirls gone…..Tobacco back……

    9. In Canada they’ll run special pot liveries. …cause smoking pot isn’t bad for you… right?

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