Why Philip Morris still sponsors Ferrari UPDATE Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has slammed claims his team's cars carry subliminal tobacco advertising as "ridiculous".
A report last week suggested the use of the barcode displayed on the Ferraris driven this year by Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa was a link to long-time sponsor Philip Morris.
John Britton, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and director of its tobacco advisory group, suggested the barcode resembled the bottom half of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes, and that it was "creeping branding".
Tobacco advertising has been banned in Formula One since 2005, yet the British and Spanish Governments have been urged to ascertain whether Ferrari and Philip Morris are in breach of EU laws.
Responding to the claims, Di Montezemolo said on Ferrari's official website: "Frankly, I find this argument completely pointless.
"It is verging on the ridiculous to claim that the color red or a graphic design which shows a barcode could induce people to smoke.
"At a time when, on the other side of the Atlantic they are fighting to provide a more equal health service, in the old continent of Europe, so-called experts are racking their brains to come up with theories that have no scientific basis.
"I think there are more important matters to think about than a barcode.
"Therefore, it's best not to waste any more time replying to this sort of nonsense, or to those who are instrumental in wanting to stoke up the story." 04/30/10 After Ferrari came under fire over subliminal Marlboro cigarette advertising on its car this week, Formula Money's Christian Sylt looks at why parent company Philip Morris continues to sponsor the team.
The key reason why Philip Morris and Marlboro still sponsor Ferrari is the subliminal recognition with consumers that a long-term partnership creates. In 2005 a study by British American Tobacco showed that the Camel cigarette brand, which stopped its F1 sponsorship in 1993, still had double the awareness level of its rival Mild Seven - title sponsor of the world championship-winning Renault team that year. The same applied to other brands such as Gauloises, which left F1 in 2000, but still had around 12.5% awareness by 2005 compared to Mild Seven's 10%. zzzz
By maintaining the impression of a presence on the Ferrari cars, Marlboro increases the length of its association with the team. In turn, this increases the length of time people will believe it is an F1 sponsor once it has completely pulled out of the sport.
In a nutshell, the purpose of a long-term partnership is to embed in the consumer's mind the connection between the brand and the team, and, even more so, to get an emotional connection between the two of those. For example, while Marlboro is still a Ferrari partner it can use the image of the cars on cigarette packets even though its own logo is not used on the cars.
If this connection is made effectively, not only are the benefits optimized while the brand is sponsoring the team but there should also be a residual benefit after it has pulled out, particularly in terms of awareness as time goes on. Marlboro's current agreement allows it to continue forging this connection in the minds of consumers, despite tobacco brands being barred from the sport. Hence the comments by the European Public Health Commissioner.