• May 2, 2010
2010 Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro F10 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Ferrari has found itself at the center of controversy once again as pundits have accused the Scuderia of subliminal advertising of tobacco products through its longstanding partnership with Philip Morris International, producer of Marlboro cigarettes.

Historically, tobacco advertising has been commonplace in motorsports, F1 in particular. Imperial Tobacco's Gold Leaf brand started off sponsoring the 1968 Monaco Grand Prix, leading a trend that would see tobacco companies sponsoring teams and races for decades to come. British American Tobacco went so far as to field its own cars – the British American Racing team that later became Honda, then Brawn GP and now races under the Mercedes GP banner. For several years, Marlboro (like Santander today) sponsored both McLaren and Ferrari, before concentrating its efforts on the Scuderia. By the late 1990s, however, European countries in particular began outlawing tobacco advertising in sports, leading to the withdrawal (no pun intended) of most major tobacco companies from Formula One. Williams became the first major team to run without cigarette branding in 2000, and since then all the major tobacco companies have pulled out of the sport, with the notable exception of Philip Morris.

Like other teams had initially, Ferrari continues to run livery on its F1 cars that – in compliance with European regulations – doesn't explicitly include the name of its sponsor. The brand continues, however, to be part of the team's name (known officially as Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro in a deal reportedly worth $1 billion), and over the years the Marlboro logo has grown increasingly abstract on the livery to the point that today it's little more than a red, white and black bar-code. Although the team had, until a couple of years ago, run with the Marlboro name on the cars in overseas races where regulations permitted tobacco advertising, since 2008 Ferrari has run only with the bar-code logo.

British pundits, however, say the abstraction is not enough, pointing to the bar-code and even the team's use of the color red as subliminal advertising of the team's title sponsor. Ferrari has released a statement refuting the charges, saying the bar-code logo has not been scientifically proven to be subliminal advertising, and that the red livery has been integral to the team since its inception and the dawn of motorsports. Follow the jump for Ferrari's argument and judge for yourself.

[Source: Ferrari]
Show full PR text
Scuderia Ferrari and Philip Morris International Sponsorship

Maranello, 29 April – Today and in recent weeks, articles have been published relating to the partnership contract between Scuderia Ferrari and Philip Morris International, questioning its legality. These reports are based on two suppositions: that part of the graphics featured on the Formula 1 cars are reminiscent of the Marlboro logo and even that the red colour which is a traditional feature of our cars is a form of tobacco publicity.

Neither of these arguments have any scientific basis, as they rely on some alleged studies which have never been published in academic journals. But more importantly, they do not correspond to the truth. The so called barcode is an integral part of the livery of the car and of all images coordinated by the Scuderia, as can be seen from the fact it is modified every year and, occasionally even during the season. Furthermore, if it was a case of advertising branding, Philip Morris would have to own a legal copyright on it.

The partnership between Ferrari and Philip Morris is now only exploited in certain initiatives, such as factory visits, meetings with the drivers, merchandising products, all carried out fully within the laws of the various countries where these activities take place. There has been no logo or branding on the race cars since 2008, even in countries where local laws would still have permitted it.

The premise that simply looking at a red Ferrari can be a more effective means of publicity than a cigarette advertisement seems incredible: how should one assess the choice made by other Formula 1 teams to race a car with a predominantly red livery or to link the image of a driver to a sports car of the same colour? Maybe these companies also want to advertise smoking! It should be pointed out that red has been the recognised colour for Italian racing cars since the very beginning of motor sport, at the start of the twentieth century: if there is an immediate association to be made, it is with our company rather than with our partner.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 48 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      well I was sort of taking them seriously until they insinuated that Ferrari's legendary Rosso Corsa somehow makes you think about cigarettes. the truth of the matter is, for every kid that starts smoking because they saw some barcode on an F1 car, there are 1000 others that do so just to be cool at school.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Actually i believe the cars are painted Marlboro red. Rossa Corsa is very close but a slightly different colour.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The no tobacco sponsorship kind of stinks because if you remember the best liveries all had it, like: Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, Honda Marlboro Mclaren, West Mclaren Mercedes, MIld Seven Renault, Benson & Hedges Jordan, and Lucky Strike BAR/Honda.
        • 4 Years Ago
        There's also the classic black and gold John Player Special Lotus F1 cars of the '70s and '80s.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Not only were the liveries the best (Here's looking at you JPS Lotus....
        • 4 Years Ago
        or martini...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Last I checked, Gulf wasn't a tobacco company. ;)
      bobbydeanmartini
      • 4 Years Ago
      HEY KJAMC1982,
      YOU BEAT ME TO IT. ADVERTISING SMOKING WITH DRIVING NO GOOD, BUT MOST OF THE REPLACEMENT SPONSORSHIP IN MOTOR SPORTS HAS BEEN PICKED UP BY LIQUOR COMPANIES. WHAT KIND OF MESSAGE ARE THEY SENDING? I USED TO PAINT INDY CARS AND HAVE WORKED FOR PENSKE. I REMEMBER WHEN PENSKE WAS SPONSORED BY MARLBORO. IT DIDN'T MAKE ME WANT TO SMOKE. AND FOR THE RECORD, SMOKING IS FORBIDDEN AT MOST TRACKS AND DEFINITELY IN THE PITS.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @bobbydeanmartini
        Remember back to when? Last year. This is the first year the the Penske Indy cars have not been sponsored by Marlboro. They have been doing the same thing as Ferrari. Although they didnt use barcodes, they just took the world Marlboro off but used the red and white triangle logo, but it said Penske racing.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Erm.. Marlboro sponsors their F1 team? That's news to me? So um I don't buy the subliminal part at all.
      • 4 Years Ago
      THAT'S IT!!! TOO MUCH BICKERING!! CANCEL MY NEW FERRARI!! I'M GOING TO GET A KIA....YOU KNOW, THE ONE WITH THE BIG ENGINE!!!!
      mitchell
      • 4 Years Ago
      Well from what I've read so far about the subject the biggest problem is with the bar code on the side of the car. Which, yes "represents" the Marlboro logo. Watching the bar code evolve over the past few seasons its acutally become less of a representation of the Marlboro logo. Besides, Ducati GP is sponsored by Marlboro, and what a surpise, a bar code is on the side of the farrings! Some one needs to bring some lawsuit against them too to be fair.

      I'm surpirsed its taken people this long to bring something up about it. They sould just let it pass. Maybe if they had done something about this when Ferrari first started to use the bar code in place of the logo it wouldn't seem like such an outrageous "scandal".

      Also I've read somewhere that Marlboro has/had the rights to all the sponsorship on the Ferrari GP cars and then sells space to lesser sponsors on the car. I'm not sure if that true anymore, but I'm sure someone could confirm it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I do miss the big Marlboro logo on those Ferraris. They are just not the same now with barcodes.

      As ambiguous as it is now, that stupid Brit should be dragged to the street and shot. Like those damn hippies. There are more urgent matters than a subliminal message on F1 cars, such as world hunger, and the oil spill to worry about.

      Get a life! Leave the F1 sponsors alone.

      Or better yet, just go fxxk yourself.
      • 4 Years Ago
      How about getting rid of alcohol on livery in motor sports. I do not think drinking and driving is something any motor sports. Double standards are always stupid.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm a die-hard F1 fan and I had no idea that's what the bar code stood for. I thought it was just a bitchin' design on Ferrari's behalf. Maybe they should loan it to Sauber so their cars aren't so plain...
      • 4 Years Ago
      These pundits seem to be nothing more than bored jackasses who've got nothing else to cry about.

      Ferrari using red is subliminal messages? I believe Ferrari has been using mostly red for their race cars since it was founded in 1929 due to the fact that Rosso corsa (red) was assigned as Italy's national color for motorsports...

      Although the barcode does have a likeness to the Malboro logo in some ways, I agree with superx1919. If you are so weak that a likeness to a logo for a product that you know is harmful can sway you into consuming such product, then that is your individual choice.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Smoking is disgusting and nicotine addicts are morally defective.

      But not half so disgusting and defective as these nanny state handwringers. It's just a logo.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Overly entitled to others' space, and the medical care resources that could be used for those with non-totally-preventable diseases? Yes.

        But morally defective? No.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "nicotine addicts are morally defective."


        Morally defective?

        As a recovering nicotine addict, I object to your patronizing comment.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is kind of nutty. It's a red-and-white car with a barcode on it. The only thing on it that could possibly remind someone of Marlboro is the presence of red and white on the same object. I suppose if you are drunk and incredibly imaginative and you squint hard enough from a sufficient distance, the car might look a bit like a gigantic screaming wheeled pack of Marlboros with a shark fin on top and a man trapped inside. If that's not a disincentive to smoke, I don't know what is.

      I really can't express how much I hate people who nit-pick about things like this.
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