McLaren, Albert Park, Melbourne, 2019

McLaren removes British American Tobacco slogan in Melbourne

2019 Australian Grand Prix

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McLaren have followed Ferrari by removing the slogan of a tobacco-producing sponsor from its branding ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

The team announced a new sponsorship deal with British American Tobacco for the 2019 F1 season last month. BAT’s slogan ‘A Better Tomorrow’ appeared on the McLaren MCL34 when it was launched and throughout pre-season testing in Spain.

Ferrari has already announced it will replace the branding of tobacco producer Philip Morris International’s Mission Winnow initiative with logos commemorating the team’s 90th anniversary.

The changes come after media and health groups in Australia revealed they were examining whether Mission Winnow or similar programmes were intended to promote tobacco products, which could violate advertising restrictions. PMI have repeatedly denied any link between Mission Winnow and its tobacco products.

McLaren drivers Carlos Sainz Jnr and Lando Norris were seen in the Melbourne paddock ahead of this weekend’s season-opening race bearing the logos of another sponsor in place of ‘A Better Tomorrow’. McLaren has not commented on the reasons for changing its livery.

BAT’s chief marketing officer Kingsley Wheaton described said its deal with McLaren “gives us a truly global platform with which to drive greater resonance of our potentially reduced risk products, including our Vype, Vuse and glo brands” when it was announced.

“Ultimately, innovation and technology will support us in creating a better tomorrow for our consumers worldwide,” he added.

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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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12 comments on “McLaren removes British American Tobacco slogan in Melbourne”

  1. Good to see that they are feeling the pressure. It was a cleverly deviced idea, but they are clearly still promoting tobacco / nicotine products.

    1. @bascb the amazing part is that they could still have a lot of exposure even if the logo never actually appears on the car, just thanks to media attention and social media… They might have court cases to establish the legality of the scheme, but since advertisement is bad, any type of exposure is kind of a win for them anyway.
      Whatever the actual logo on the car, it feels like they are walking away with a win on this unfortunately. Then we have to admit that it was a clever move from a marketing perspective.

  2. I’ve suddenly felt the urge to throw away my cigarettes and go buy a Big Gulp.

  3. Props to Zak Brown here. Managing to get another sponsor in such a short amount of time that will most likely be paying pretty good money for the prominence of the branding is great management. How is it that some teams are struggling for sponsorship whilst McLaren are pulling them out left, right and centre despite being lacklustre for a good few years.

  4. From what I’ve read previously, sponsorships are structured as a loan, with the loan being considered as paid off in “instalments” corresponding to each race appearance.

    It makes me wonder, in a case like this, where a team doesn’t run a specific sponsor’s livery, does that mean the team is on the hook for 1/21 of the sponsorship amount?

    1. I suspect not if the decision is made by the sponsor @phylyp ; don’t know whether that’s the case here though

    2. @phylyp @bosyber I’m almost 100% sure the team legally can’t be on the hook for it if the reason is legal obligation and the team can show it did what it was allowed to do to mitigate this. If it (or Ferrari) had dumped the sponsor on the grounds of Australia’s ban, that would be different, but it would still be hard to argue they’d be on the hook for this specific race – rather, they’d be on the hook for those races where the logos would still have been legal.

      1. yep, indeed @alianora-la-canta, as usual you summed up the situation quite well there.

      2. @alianora-la-canta – thank you, that makes a lot of sense!

  5. “gives us a truly global platform with which to drive greater resonance of our potentially reduced risk products

    Now Zak gets props for exploiting a loophole in the tobacco ad ban. Maybe they can enjoy the same slimeball hypocrite rep as Ferrari now.

    Get your ethics in order Liberty/FIA. Either enforce the tobacco ban or just take the money from death merchants everywhere. Oh wait…you already do.

    Therefore, make big (alternate) tobacco the (subliminal) banner sponsor for F1 and give all the teams a share of the death money. That’s the sporting thing to do.

    1. Sublliminal adverts are illegal in most countries F1 visits, and easily detected by some people. (It was an inadvertent side discovery of a bit of autism research I participated within in 2007, that the autistic people in the study were often spotting visual switches at 0.08 seconds – the researchers only didn’t test further because the software wasn’t designed to test faster visual switching, having been tested on less visually-sensitive people). Even if that indicates the ability to spot subliminal advertising is rare, you can bet the lawyers would be interested in hearing from people who can use their frame-by-frame recording set-up to prove their observations.

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