Ferrari SF1000 launch, 2020

Ferrari threatened with legal action and seizure of car over alleged tobacco promotion

2020 F1 season

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An Italian consumer rights group has threatened legal action against Ferrari and demanded the seizure of the new F1 car it presented on Tuesday, claiming it is unlawfully promoting tobacco products.

Codacons, a non-profit organisation which promotes consumer rights, says it is preparing legal action against Ferrari over the Mission Winnow logos which were displayed on the SF1000 when it was launched in Reggio Emilia.

Mission Winnow is an initiative backed by tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris International. While PMI has strongly denied the branding is intended to promote tobacco products, Codacons claim the Mission Winnow logos allows the manufacturer to circumvent bans on promoting tobacco in Europe and other regions.

A statement released by Codacons claims is has the backing of Italy’s Ministry of Health. “The Ministry’s opinion states that ‘the Mission Winnow brand used on the occasion of Formula 1 sporting events allows, through the links on the site of the same name, a promotion, albeit indirectly, to an important manufacturer of cigarettes and new tobacco products’,” it said.

Codacons president Carlo Rienzi said the organisation wants the Nuclei Antisofisticazione e Sanita – the branch of the Italian police force responsible for health matters – to seize the SF1000.

“Strengthened by the decision of the Ministry,” said Rienzi, “we will start a legal battle against Ferrari, presenting a new complaint to the Antitrust and Ministry of Health, and we will ask the NAS to seize the new SF1000 single-seater presented in Reggio Emilia.”

Ferrari first ran the Mission Winnow logos at the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix. However it removed the logos and dropped the ‘Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow’ team name at 11 of last year’s 21 races, including the Italian Grand Prix.

RaceFans has approached Ferrari for comment.

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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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81 comments on “Ferrari threatened with legal action and seizure of car over alleged tobacco promotion”

  1. Codacons made the same allegations last year to both Ferrari and Ducati but it was all smoke and mirrors. I expect it to be the same this time around.

  2. Doesnt Mclaren also take sponsership money from tobacco company? In MotoGP Ducatis are taking sponsership from same tobacco company as Ferrari so why not take action against them as well?

    1. I assume because they’re not Italian companies like Ferrari.

    2. It’s not the money that’s the issue, it’s the active sponsorship that’s illegal in all of the EU that’s the issue.

      You can “Mission Winnow” as much as you want, make a nice website that pretends its helping smokers get rid of smoking, but at the end of the day it’s Philip Morris trying to sell people a story about “researching public health” over the back of their death sticks.

      I’m sure Ducati isn’t going to catch the same wind when all of this is said and done, either. So no worries on that front.

    3. With regards to the latter question, some of their comments to the press did seem to imply that they might widen their action to include Ducati as well.

      That said, there are some who are doubtful over whether this really is a serious move, or more of a publicity stunt – the founder of this group describes himself as a “first rate troublemaker”, and the group has been involved in previous lawsuits that were rather frivolous and seemed to be mainly about seeking attention for the founder of this group.

  3. Fecal Matter is approaching the aerodynamic device for airflowmanagement at an alarming rate. Is contact to be anticipated?

    1. @mrboerns. Love love love the wording… I must plagiarize with a flair of my own!
      “Fecal Matter is approaching the electrical aerodynamic device for airflow-management at an alarming rate. Is contact to be anticipated???

    2. @mrboerns I hope so because tobacco brands are trying to sell us some elongated legless reptile lubricant but it all smells of bovine excrement to me.

      1. Bovine, or equine?

    3. Montréalais (@)
      14th February 2020, 2:37

      It does look as though contact will occur. It is the same with the sanitation facility aboard the International Space Station, except that there it is supposed to hit the fan.

    4. Montréalais (@)
      14th February 2020, 2:40

      @mrboerns Yes, it does appear as though contact will occur, in much the same way as inside the sanitary facility aboard the International Space Station. The difference is that there it is supposed to hit the fan.

  4. petebaldwin (@)
    13th February 2020, 11:56

    Interesting to see how this plays out. I’m not sure what defence Ferrari or PMI can have here… After a full year promotion, can anyone explain to me what “Mission Winnow” actually is?

    1. My understanding is this is a “grey” area. Phillip Morris is a company who’s primary product is tobacco. However they cannot promote the brand’s of tobacco they sell but over “ventures” from this company are legal. The question is, is the mission winnow branding related to the selling of tobacco products? Answers on a postcard please.

    2. Duncan Snowden
      13th February 2020, 13:08

      It’s Philip Morris’s detobaccofication project.

    3. @petebaldwin Me too.

      I literally thought it was just Ferrari making a statement of intent to win now, as in, not later…

      No idea about any other connections.

      1. All this is doing is promoting mission winnow more, as I suspect most of us never had a clue what mission was, but if they sue Ferrari and get lots of publicity, people will look up and find out what mission winnow is …….. Maybe it’s Phillip Morris sue themselves…….. Best publicity they could have hoped for…..

    4. A side-door for Marlboro’s parent company to advertise Marlboro and vaping all at once. @petebaldwin

      1. But for a strong legal case, shouldn’t the philip morris brand(s) and tobacco products at least be mentioned on the mission winnow website? Right now it is far fetched and seems just to be about the monetary link between ferrari and philip moris trough the mission winnow initiative.

    5. winos ommission – leaving without ball and chain

    6. That’s the interesting part. It’s definitely associated with Philip Morris, but PMI could probably claim, with a straight face, that they’ve never mentioned “Mission Winnow” and “Tobacco” in the same sentence, and the only people mentioning tobacco are the anti-tobacco crowd.

      I believe it’s called the Streisand effect, and the irony is that the anti-tobacco people are the ones advertising Ferrari’s tobacco sponsorship.

  5. I live in Italy. Until it’s just a move from organisations like Codacons, fine, it’s not even morally wrong if you ask me. I could even support this.
    But when it gets backed from no less than the Ministry of Health, the whole thing smells hypocrisy to a whole new level: this comes from the Ministry of a State which sells and *has monopoly* over the sale of tobacco products. It’s nothing new, but it doesn’t mean it is any less baffling. I sell you the cigarettes, at every corner of every street of a whole country,both in shops and with automatic vending machines, so you can buy them at night as well, God forbid we ever run out of cigarettes for a night, oh and nobody is allowed to be a commercial competitor here. But hey: don’t you dare take money from a brand that is somehow related to the tobacco industry, because that’s not healthy.

    1. Ministry of Health […] which sells and has monopoly over the sale of tobacco products.

      @alfa145 – wait, what? Please tell me you’re joking. That’s like using a fox to guard a hen house.

      1. @phylyp it’s all part of a long list of absurd things the Italians have got used to, just like paying taxes on gas to support the 1956 Suez crisis or the 1982 ONU mission in Lebanon (there’s even a wikipedia page to list all these, if you’re interested). Yes we pay to this day a tax on fuel for these things above. I’m sure there’s some name for this in psychology, when you accept something just because it’s just too absurd to process. Like magic tricks -they can’t really be, come on- and you end up accepting them, just because you have no other option.

      2. That’s like using a fox to guard a hen house.

        Or the rooster teaming up with the fox and running the slaughterhouse as well, @phylyp.

        @alfa145, next you tell that the ministry of health is running hospitals well well and us it as an example of the circular economy in business school.
        PS why Alfa 145?

        1. I just love my car=)
          (sorry I don’t understand what you mean)

          1. Sefano — I get what you mean, I likewise love my Alfa :)

      3. Please tell me you’re joking. That’s like using a fox to guard a hen house.

        @phylyp, @alfa145 its like that in basicaly every country (not just Italy) where cigarets/alcohol/other drugs are legalized, the government takes a share from the sales through taxes of about 50% or more… So the largest drug cartels are completely legal.
        I guess Ferrari will be fine, they drop it at some races and that’s it.

    2. Dude, there is a LAW that forbids advertisements, even indirect ones, of any tobacco correlated stuff.
      Mission Winnow IS correlated with tobacco.
      That’s all that matters.

      1. The funny thing is that prior to last years Aussie GP, I had no idea that Winnow was in anyway associated with tobacco. The only time I had seen their name previous to the Ferrari thing was as part of the production (sponsorship?) of the Williams documentary – their name came up in the lead titles. The silly thing that these anti-tobacco groups do is draw attention to associations (ie. that winnow is associated with tobacco) that the ‘normal bloke’ would otherwise be unaware of. Now that I am aware of the association (and being an avid user of tobacco products for many years) I go out of my way to purchase Philip Morris products due to newfound knowledge of their support of F1.

      2. Codacons claim the Mission Winnow logos allows the manufacturer to circumvent bans on promoting tobacco in Europe and other regions.

        I’m sorry, but Mission Winnow isn’t a tobacco product. It is a collection of words that mean little linguistically meaning today. Maybe in the distant past or maybe in the distant future, but not today. Maybe there’s some other aspect about the way they portray those words, e.g. the background colour, that’s supposed to entice me to buy their products. However, Codacons need to say specifically what it is about these adverts that breaks the law because I can’t see any connection between Mission Winnow and PMI’s tobacco products. If they can’t specify exactly how a law is broken then how can they expect a judge to grant a judgement in their favour?

  6. I think I counted no less than NINE MW logos from the front angle view. That’s obscene for any sponsor. Looks rediculous too.

    Get rid of it. Won’t need it once budget cap comes in either.

  7. Italia. I find the whole thing quite funny.

  8. Yep, we’re too stupid to notice a huge Marlboro M on the side of the car, world’s gone nuts….

    1. And there’s me thinking PMI were subtly trying to promote Microsoft Windows. Of course, I’m not sure why they’d think that, but maybe that’s the risk of subliminal advertising: people may misunderstand and feel compelled to buy something other than what you want them to buy.

  9. Do we think their claim has merit or are they just “blowing smoke”?

    I personally think the whole Mission Winnow sponsorship is stupid, and I generally agree with this organization that it’s a back-door way for PMI to promote tobacco products, but seizing the car? Give me a break.

    1. There is a law that forbids advertisement.
      You can’t just break the law and go unpunished,right?

      1. It’s Italy, of course you can. Just bribe, sorry ‘donate’, enough money to the right person (Silvio B), sorry ’cause’ (The Silvio B Foundation) and all will be good :)

      2. Mission Winnow isn’t a tobacco product, it is words that seem to form a rough reflection of each other. Is that against the law? As much as I agree with the banning of advertising tobacco products, I just don’t see this claim as being realistic.

  10. Let’s hope noone notices the Shell and UPS logos. Oil burning and dodgy cigarettes have no place on a Ferrari!

    1. UPS is a delivery/postal service.
      JPS is a brand of cigarettes.

  11. While I see no point in seizing the car – I fully agree these Tobacco ads must go.

    On place of FIA\Liberty I would have intervened long ago. But probably they were just “lobbied” (which is the mask-word for “bribed”) by PMI team.

  12. if tobacco products are such a plague why they are not simply banned from sale at all, cutting all anxiety and care about public health alongside with huge budget income in taxes at once…? Because right now my personal health suffers much more from all that hypocrisy than MissionWinnow branding.

    1. Comment of the day right here.

    2. You failed to understand that promoting tobacco is against the law.
      Even if it’s your beloved Scuderia doing that.
      Deal with it.

      1. Ain’t nobody promoting tobacco. They’re promoting Mission Winnow.

      2. i agree. promoting tobacco is against the law (in europe and some other parts or the world). But they are not promoting tobacco products, that is the whole point here. The only tobacco promotion in the whole thing is these groups like Codacons who are bringing tobacco products under internation attention with their actions.

    3. If they’re gonna ban cigarettes they might as well ban alcohol, but theyre just too popular to ban.

      1. If you “ban” it then you must enforce that ban somehow. It is much better to tax them exorbitantly high and ban the advertising. Use the tax revenue to fund public health. That goes for cancer sticks and alcohol, actually should include gasoline in there as well.

        1. Unlike tobacco and alcohol, which can be considered luxury/status items, as dumb as that sounds, Gasoline is nowhere near in the same club. Gasoline makes it possible for people to commute and travel freely over great distances, and is a key component of the quality of life and wealth in our society.

          Instead of gasoline, including a sugar and fizzy drinks tax would make much more sense.

    4. just so u know, tobacco is sold because it is such a predictable market and it can make lots of money because you become addicted, and if you get lung cancer, you will have to pay in countries that don’t have free health care to get the treatment needed so that’s why they still sell it, because it makes so much money

    5. Banning tobacco just creates an unregulated black market for it. This is the problem with the prohibition of just about anything that people want on a large scale. Better to keep it in the sun and regulate it.

  13. Why would the car have to be seized? Just alter the livery a bit, and the problem gets solved.

  14. Lol “seize” the new single seater.

    Are they going to seize the factory too?

    On a serious note, Mission Winnow = Philip Morris so it shouldn’t be allowed.

  15. I am someone who has been asthmatic since birth and slight whiff of cigarette smoke will send me to a coughing frenzy.

    And yet I loath the banning of tobacco ads with a passion, especially when said advertising is just the damn name, and not say a picture of someone smoking.

    I’m not a big fan of smoking in general and even the effect it causes with second hand smoking and such (especially since second hand is my only health exposure to it), but its a legal consumer product that anybody over a certain age can legally buy and frankly companies should have the right to market it.

    1. No they shouldn’t

      1. Nice reply megatron. 10 year olds would be proud, “NO U R!”

        His opinion is his opinion, simply adding a “no u r!” Does absolutely nothing to further the conversation.

        It wouldn’t surprise me if you got cotd though.

        @yaru I’m with ya man, people need to stop the nanny state crap… however since tobacco advertising is illegal in Italy, I see it as if f1 itself is gonna just ignore the MW/BAT sponsorships, good on Italy for enforcing the law in their own country if they DO end up impounding the car. If they did, I bet the mclaren would ditch the bat sponsorship pdq.

        Once the law is made, you can’t really blame a country for enforcing it. It becomes a “what are you gonna do about it???” Situation quickly.

  16. I don’t like the way this is being handled, why seize the car. It not like they forcing anyone to go out and smoke cause the car has an image of a tobacco brand, just as Heiniken doesn’t make me go out and drink it.I see a amazing car, the Brand of Ferrari. This is just some group stirring up trouble, hope it backfires on them, counter sue Ferrari please, that’ll shut them up!

    P.S. Does this mean that any F1 car will be seized and that team sued, if they found smoking (brakes, engine, turbo, etc) on the grid at Monza?

    1. I know you think you are being cute and insightful, but don’t be dense. Smoking brakes, turbos or engines aren’t illegal. Advertising for tobacco is.

      I am amazed that this stuff has to be explained…

      1. It amazes me that people still wish to deny the effects of advertising.

        “Well it doesn’t make ME want to smoke”. Perhaps not. But I’d say the amount of money that exists in advertising and sponsorship is a solid indicator that it might get results.

        I’m an occasional smoker. When I went to Australia and New Zealand the prices were eye watering, but the resulting decline in smokers is an unquestionably positive outcome. When I recently went to buy a pack for a single night out and found I had to buy a minimum of 20, I was inconvenienced, but so are the current crop of 15 year old GongTongs around the country who can’t chip in £2.10 to get a pack to share at lunchtime. All these things help.

  17. this whole thing smells like a shakedown. lets see if it gets settled out of court.

  18. It’ll be fun to see the riots in the streets if they attempt to seize the Ferrari contenders for 2020…

  19. The M logos are displayed on the new 2020 Ferrari on least 17 times. Last season the M logos was over 20 times in all the 2019 Ferrari angles it used.

    No other single vendors/adverts do not display number of logos on different F1 cars. Why? Can why M logos are used by Ferrari so many times?

    Philip Morris sells tobacco products. The M logos are not very foolish to anyone. They sell tobacco products.

  20. Seize the car! Would they park it in a normal impound lot next to Civics and Tahoes (or Pandas and Stelvios I guess)?

    I wonder what the material cost is of a 2020 F1 car. R&D not withstanding, what would it cost Ferrari to construct a replacement in the event of a seizure?

    1. Nothing in the cars shown at launch will be in the car at testing. They generally get a previous year car and mod it a bit to make it look like this years

  21. are you so weak that seeing an ad for cigarettes will make you run out to buy a pack? I’m 66 years old, I couldn’t count how many cigarette ads I’ve seen in my lifetime and not one has made me want to light up.
    seize the the car what a stupid idea.

    1. Are you suggesting that advertising doesn’t work?

  22. ** BEGIN RANT **

    The ban on tobacco advertising is simply the first step in the rancid reactionary race to banning advertising everything, we should be asking what’s next. Governments will not ban the products listed in various posts above because they make too much in taxation for them so banning advertising of anything that is not actually illegal to sell is a disingenuous slur on the intelligence of everyone around. If someone is dumb enough to smoke because Marlboro was on the side of an F1 car or a football shirt well good for them – I hope they enjoy their shortened life.

    I did smoke – because I tried one a couple of times, then failed to stop. Not because of an advert, a fast car, a scantily clad model wearing a Benson and Hedges bikini. I don’t blame anyone for me smoking apart from myself, and I have also now quit (for 10 years).

    Banning the advertising of a product is the ultimate in “state knows best” – make it illegal and stop making money off it, or leave people alone to advertise what they will.

    ** END RANT **

  23. Cristiano Ferreira
    13th February 2020, 20:37

    This whole tobacco sponsorship thing is leading to so many overreaction from people since Ferrari started using it.

    One must be really weak minded to start smoking (or drinking, or betting or whatever) just because some ad is placed in a car or in a billboard.

    1. What annoys me, is Ferrari blatantly getting away with something that’s not only against fia rules, but actual law, laws.

      1. Cristiano Ferreira
        13th February 2020, 22:00

        Its a grey area, so that’s not really forbidden, that’s why Ferrari and McLaren has these ads and its just a matter of time until others starting doing it as well.

        What i get is that this fuss is all about PMI branding something, and i doubt they would get away if they were going to sponsor ice creams… somehow someone would point out that its just a diversion for their main product (tobacco).

  24. While PMI has strongly denied the branding is intended to promote tobacco products

    From the industry that ‘strongly denied’ any links between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer.
    Ferrari soil themselves being associated with tobacco. Surely they can get sponsorship money from somewhere better?

  25. Mission Winnow is obviously promoting Phillip Morris. Considering the long association and branding relationship between PM and Ferrari, it’s a transparent attempt to find technicalities to skirt the tobacco advertising ban. It reflects terribly on Ferrari at this point. PM must be pumping a LOT of money into Ferrari for them to stick by this. We can only hope that the EU and Liberty step and stop the MW branding.

    Plus, those MW “arrows” are an anesthetic nightmare. They horrible on the cars and the suits.

  26. Ferrari seem to be able to do what they like in F1 and get away with it, so nothing new about trying to bending the rules on sponsorship.

  27. In a perverse sort of way, Philip Morris is getting exactly what it wanted from this deal.

    If meadow outlets in general had ignored the “Mission Winnow” a large number of fans, and general public wouldn’t have even thought twice about it.

    But with all the publicity….. wow they must be absolutely delighted as it’s done exactly what they set out to do.

    I doubt it will matter a great deal if Ferrari are forced to remove the logo – it’s done ist job over the last couple of years and it’s front and centre again.

    Good job PMI marketing team.

  28. Do the authorities bring a pit crew to seize a F1 car?

  29. Kenneth Mclennan
    14th February 2020, 1:47

    Ferrari at it again bending the rules to suit themselves ban them for the hole whole sessions.

  30. And so red drama begins. It started early this year.

  31. It’s not even this year’s car. It’s a fake version with this year’s livery.

  32. Philip Morris couldn’t have asked for better advertising and exposure. They will be all over the news for months. The legal fees will cost much less than if they bought ads in newspapers. Brilliant.

  33. it’s amazing that far more advertising of tobacco products is done via the controversy of the logo than the logo itself.

  34. This case will end up generating so much publicity for Mission Winnow and I reckon Ferrari will not lose.

Comments are closed.